You’ve probably heard of Sacco and Vanzetti, the Italian-American anarchists who became international martyrs when they were sloppily tried and summarily executed for murder in the 1920s.
Who’d have figured that Vanzetti is best represented onstage by a small, wiry robot with googly eyes and a shaggy mustache? Send for the Million Men, Joseph Silovsky’s delightful take on the Sacco and Vanzetti tale, now playing at HERE, traces the doomed anarchists’ fates through a charmingly idiosyncratic combination of puppetry, object theater, projections, and genre-defying effects. Silovsky
presides over it all, recounting the tragic tale while maniacally operating his many contraptions, ably assisted by fellow performer Victor Morales and musician Catherine McRae.
Silovsky pulls hundred-year-old history from a collection of
battered suitcases that become, among other things, a miniature
city through which a projected Sacco and Vanzetti travel. Later, a
disembodied gavel bangs loudly on a suitcase suspended from the ceiling, embodying the judge at the fateful trial. And at the center is the endearing pair: an animated Sacco encased in a TV set, and the sweet robo-Vanzetti.
Million Men revives a story so familiar it’s often forgotten, reminding us of the ways in which objects hold history: turning into artifacts that bear traces of people’s lives long after they seemed to be gone for good.