Kevin Augustine's puppets are incredible creatures. Their intricacies are many, with fine facial features and clever physical manipulations that lend them a super-reality. Their carefully chiseled, slightly askew contours make them simultaneously disturbing and melancholic. And with the fine-tuned coordination of Augustine and his fellow puppeteers (Laura Emmanuel, Sophie Nimmanit, and Matthew Riggs), the characters come to life in an astounding manner. Add to the list of characters a luminescent butterfly and a book that attempts to fly from its reader's hand, and Augustine has created a magical world in which anything goes, a world particular to puppetry and to Augustine's work in particular.
This is what makes the shortsightedness of Big Top Machine such a shame. Augustine is one of the greatest puppet artisans working today, but the text of the piece is ultimately uninteresting and banal. The story revolves around Stan (Augustine), who, in an effort to escape his estranged wife and alcoholic tendencies, does what almost everyone has considered doing at one point or another