As far as artistic subjects go, fracking — the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock — hasn’t yet had its Upton Sinclair moment. But maybe that’s just because no one’s used puppets and accordions to tell the story — until now, at least.
This week is your only chance to see Below and Beyond, a new offering from Philadelphia-based Ramshackle Enterprises, directed by occasional Baltimorean Donna Sellinger. Below and Beyond makes inventive use of puppets, pulleys, movements, maps, and a one-man accordion band to “explore the complications of what lies beneath our feet,” according to its director and creator. The play sold out its run of shows in Philadelphia, receiving plenty of positive feedback (“[Co-creators Beth] Nixon and [Sarah] Lowry manage a bit of scaffolding, scores of puppets and props and their own boundless energies to create a sprawling mythic journey. At turns surprising, hilarious, and earnest the piece is one that makes you stop and wonder about the workings of the city around (and below) you,” said Adrienne Mackey, the artistic director of Swim Pony Performing Arts.)
Now its cast and creators are taking it on the road, stopping in Baltimore for one night only (Saturday, May 5, 8:00 p.m.) at the Whole Gallery, with local openers Foot Talk and City Paper favorites the Annex Theatre. I’ve heard there will be an invasion of urban water buffalo. Highly recommended.