La potion de reincarnation

Photo: Charleville-Mezieres

= La potion de reincarnation (The Potion of Reincarnation) is a brilliant puppet show from Jin Kwei Lo Puppetry Company (Taiwan), directed by Cheng Chiayin, presented in Chinese. It’s absolutely a masterstroke of puppetry. 

In Buddhist-Taoist mythology, a soul is reborn only after meeting Old Lady Meng and drinking from her cup of forgetfulness. In this play, a woman is reincarnated three times without finding happiness.

The show begins with fingers as shadow puppets, and the sort of classical Chinese music that’s like the sound of nature. But mostly the puppets are small, delicate hand puppets elaborately dressed. The puppeteers dress them on stage with ritualistic, meticulous care. What’s more, there’s intermittent singing throughout. We can see that this is a ceremony.

At one point, a puppeteer tosses a hand puppet and another catches it just by just placing his hand under the mitt as it falls.
Some scenes are spooky, heavy with shadow, and the play ends with Old Lady Meng telling the woman that if she cries, she’ll forget her life. What a mournful thought! Let no one say puppetry is just for children. This production is mystical and profound. Wonderful!

- Steve Capra

September 2019

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