By Marcina Zaccaria


Conceived by Manual Cinema, ADA/ AVA (winner of Best in Festival award at 2013’s National Puppetry Festival), brings shadow puppetry and live music to the stage, creating a stellar haunted house show.

Walking into 3LD always feels like taking a futuristic journey, but seeing ADA/ AVA is more like walking into a forgotten past. The black and white halls surround, before a long hallways leads to a theater space, where puppeteers and musicians create a brilliant, wordless drama.

Twins Ava and Ada take center stage. The actresses with grey buns climb up the stairs and move through maze-like environments before showing their strong profiles. Puppeteer/performers Kara Davidson, Sam Deutsch, Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller have almost perfect timing, never skipping a beat. The puppeteers are flawless, as the characters glide up and down stairs, ride tandem bicycles, and face panic rooms. Their world is colorful, with exposed oranges leading to yellows, following a sky that is full of dreams or delusions.

Particularly of note are the bursts of lightning. A beam of light cascades across the sky, setting the audience for a journey from a home full of portraits to the seaside. Images from carnivals and skeletons flood the screen. The projections seem to float next to one another, blending freely, creating a rich landscape.

Billed as a “hybrid ‘live cinema’ multimedia theater piece,” ADA/ AVA deconstructs the components of a film. Jolty lights flicker, creating moments of confusion. Loud music rumbles through the performance space. Synthesizer, cello, guitar, and live vocals create the soundscape. Not exactly ambient or new age, the music provides a narrative through line, complimenting over three hundred shadow puppets used in the show. Although evocative of silent film, the play is really more of a pensive, emotion-filled reverie. ADA/ AVA gives space for the audience to fill in their thoughts with kind and generous words.

Director Drew Dir (also the co-artistic director of Manual Cinema) does a fine job blending elements of performance. He leaves plenty of space for the audience to appreciate their breath, as they follow the characters on this somber journey. The overall theatrical experience is captivating.


ADA/ AVA is part of The Tank’s Flint & Tinder, their flagship theater program. The production is part of 3-Legged Dog’s Artist Residency Program, presented at 3LD Art and Technology Center (located at 80 Greenwich Street, at Rector, in downtown Manhattan). ADA/ AVA will be running until July 5.

Ovationtix at 866-811-4111