This awe-inspiring show describes itself as a “live cinematic shadow puppet show” – which is a pretty accurate description. Combining a use of vintage overhead projectors, shadow puppets, live actors and a stunning musical score, Manual Cinema have undeniably taken a fresh look at the traditional coming of age story.
Following protagonist Lula, Lula Del Ray is set in some undisclosed US location in the middle of nowhere, in a lone trailer by a satellite farm which Lula’s mother supervises. Isolated from seemingly all other human contact except the postman, Lula’s small town teenage rebellion is inflated by her lack of contact with any humans other than her mother. After venturing to the big city to witness her favourite artists, The Baden Brothers, perform live, Lula is thrown into a world she isn’t quite ready for and makes some decidedly crushing discoveries along the way. Lula Del Ray is rooted in nostalgia: American diners, cherished vinyl records and long evenings spent sitting atop the trailer roof staring at the stars. The cherry-pie vision of America the show is set in is wholesome and endearing, and makes for an excellent dose of escapism from the daily drudgery of modern life.
However, the magic of this cinematic experience is not confined solely to the screen where the story unfolds. Manual Cinema make no effort to hide the lengths they go to bring the show to life. Your eyes can’t help but flit between the screen and the cast standing below it, deftly moving slides, blocking projectors and acting in front of another projection screen themselves to create a very three dimensional experience out of a traditionally two dimensional medium. It is immersive to the end: the mesmerising music and dancing silhouettes culminate in an overall experience you won’t soon forget.
Go ahead and pinch yourself – you’re not dreaming, but Manual Cinema’s remarkable Lula Del Ray will leave you feeling as though you are.
Words: Emily Hay
Photo: Jerry Shulman
Lula Del Ray by Manual Cinema, Underbelly Med Quad, Aug 2-28 (not 14), 4.30pm