Kevin Augustine, bald-headed and skin a sickly yellow, sits in a throne-like chair in a kind of post-apocalyptic junk-shop laboratory. He evokes echoes of Beckett’s Hamm, a monkey-man assistant serving as his Clov—or his Igor. Indeed, both Endgame and Frankenstein hover over Bride, an eerie, sometimes puzzling creation myth that showcases Augustine’s puppetry talents.
Father, Augustine’s character, is a shambling God in a ratty white robe. His obsessive goal is to create a child—easily seen as mankind. Proof of his success, though, rests in the child’s ability to successfully learn and perform an elaborate, pretty dance. Failure—which appears to occur regularly—means the child’s dismemberment, or a trip down to a very creepy hell.
The God-as-mad-scientist setup is overly familiar, and the plot a little strained, but Augustine’s puppetry is often compelling, especially the ragged, prune-faced child whose trials at the hands of its peculiar dad evoke a strong sympathy. Watching the tyke descend a staircase made of skeletons to a rat-filled basement, its fear is palpable—quite an achievement. Bride‘s coup-de-théâtre ending seems out of place, but Augustine—aided by a crew of Bunraku-style puppeteers and live musical accompaniment—does manage to conjure an otherworldly dystopia.