This review was written for Animations Online
What do you get if you cross a black and white Hollywood movie with a busy 1950s office and a paper doll activity book? You get ‘Papercut’ – a two dimensional romantic adventure that unfurls chaotically across a stationery strewn desktop. Already a firm festival favourite, the Israeli actress Yael Rasooly has revived her loveable low-fi show for this year’s Manipulate, playing at the Traverse in Edinburgh.
Rasooly greets her audience as they arrive and find their seats, with warm welcomes and prickly asides delivered from her Anglepoise lamp lit desk. The beginning of the main feature is indicated with a cut to black, the Twentieth Century Fox title drum rolls and a quick flash of Rasooly roaring inside a paper cut out rosette. The movie theme is set.
‘Papercut’ is about the daydreams of Miss Ruth Spencer, a frustrated secretary who fantasises about an affair with her indifferent but demanding boss. Her story unfolds after office hours, and is told using pop-up books and paper cut outs of glamorous film stars. The puppetry is purposefully simplistic and childlike – Rasooly isn’t a master manipulator – but the effect is quirky, creative and fun. Surely nobody flicks through an expanding file with as much style as Miss Spencer, or can imbue fusty office documents with as much hapless life.
Rasooly is a songstress and a comedienne as well as a storyteller, and her one-woman show is highly entertaining, warts and all. She improvises around mishaps with much panache and always with a twinkle in her eye. When she spits out a chewed up paper romantic lead with more strength than usual, she is quick to recover the soggy specimen from the audience member’s lap and thrust an apologetic bottle of Scotch into their arms instead.
Flat black and white paper may seem like a limited medium to work with but Rasooly reveals its potential. What other material allows you to rip off your protagonists’ heads or push out their eyes with such ease? Combined with the appealing 1940s and 50s aesthetic and croons that are so popular at the moment, this is a long form cabaret-like skit that is an easy joy to watch.