SWMBO and I went to a performance yesterday by the Phantom Limb Company of "69 degrees South" at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. It's a stunning presentation which refers to the Endurance Expedition to Antarctica of Ernest Shackleton in 1914. His ship became trapped by pack ice and eventually sank. The crew than began a seven month trek hauling lifeboats to reach the open sea and after another 7 days of rowing they reached Elephant Island.
Shackleton, however, realized they had no hope of being discovered and resolved to travel 800 miles to a whaling station on South Georgia to get help. He and five of his men made the journey in about three weeks and after three tries they returned to Elephant Island and rescued all of the other men.
The play is presented wordlessly by six characters who prowl the stage in costume and on stilts manipulating puppets to represent Shackleton and his men.
It is a stunning and somewhat puzzling performance accompanied by video images projected on a rear wall, glaciers rising from the stage, and a musical sound track performed by the Kronos Quartet.
The performers are excellent as they move around the stage, bending and weaving as they control the marionettes.
The New York-based Phantom Limb Company spent four years putting the show together, including a trip to Antarctica, and collaborating with the Kronos Quartet on the sound track. Additional music was provided by Skeleton Key.
If you want to challenge your brain . . you might try this avant-garde performance as it travels around the country.