He's made from nothing more than a white glove and a ball, but, after sea levels rise and billions have been lost, Alvin Sputnik's mission is to save the world.
Created by Australian puppeteer and theatre maker Tim Watts, the tiny character is the focal point of The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer – a theatre piece that combines puppetry, mime, animation, music and storytelling.
The family-friendly show has toured the globe and landed rapturous praise, including Outstanding Solo Show at the New York Fringe – and it's also one of PuSh Festival artistic and executive director Norman Armour's very top picks at this year's fest.
"There is a real sense of charm to it, and a kind of a roller coaster to the tale. There is a sense of delight and enchantment, and a sense of the mysterious," Mr. Armour said about the show, which marks the first collaboration between PuSh and the Vancouver International Children's Festival. "It is very much an act of imagination."
Mr. Armour's other must-see shows this weekend include The Road Forward, a powerful tribute to B.C.'s murdered and missing aboriginal women by Marie Clements and Jennifer Kreisberg; Sea Sick, journalist and author Alanna Mitchell's exploration of what humans are doing to the ocean, and the grave risks we face as a result; Fare Thee Well! and Cinema Imaginaire, two immersive works from the Netherlands that explore the urban experience; and Le Cargo, a work by Democratic Republic of the Congo-born choreographer Faustin Linyekula that delves into the link between dance and culture, even in the wake of unimaginable tragedy.
This weekend's Club PuSh – the fest's social hub that features live music and other offbeat performances – also features The Christeene Machine (which Mr. Armour calls "a bold, bold, bold, hardcore performance"), the sci-fi musical 1999 by French artist Gérald Kurdian, Nick Jaina's The Hole in the Coffin, which tells the tale of what happened after the Portland artist attended his musical hero's funeral in New Orleans, and a performance by beloved Winnipeg musician Christine Fellows.
"We're trying to use the club as a very fluid and very responsive platform for new ways of performance, new ways of storytelling, new ways of genre-busting and really reaching out very much to a younger audience – and to an audience of really wide and varied interests," Mr. Armour said. "To people who are looking for that feeling of being in a room where something really special is happening."
The PuSh Festival runs until Feb. 8 (pushfestival.ca).