Swamp Juice OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • HUFFPOST

  • VILLAGE VOICE

Opening Night:
November 28, 2014
Closing:
January 4, 2014

Theater: Barrow Street Theatre / 27 Barrow Street, New York, NY, 10014

Synopsis: 

Using shadow puppets made from bits of rubbish, Jeff Achtem presents a gurgling adventure about life in a swamp, with an eye-popping 3D shadow puppet finale. Swamp Juice is a playful and immersive experience, for all ages. Watch out for the jellyfish!

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Swamp Juice

    Accused of Cruelty to Cardboard

    Alexis Soloski

    December 3, 2014: No animals are harmed in the making of Jeff Achtem’s Swamp Juice. But plenty of cardboard, plastic foam and pipe cleaners come to a bad end. Mr. Achtem’s mostly wordless, largely wondrous and fairly repulsive puppet play centers on a despicable dude who cruises the bayou torturing various snails, snakes and birds until he arrives at the other end of the food chain. It’s a nasty story, even if Mr. Achtem does furnish it with a mostly happy ending. A lot of the comedy depends on the questionable hilarities of flatulence and regurgitation. But there’s real virtuosity in the telling. Mr. Achtem is a bashful comedian with a seriously demented stage persona. He appears in shirt, tie, waistcoat and bedraggled trousers. Mutton chops frame his face, and the sparse hair on his head sticks up in disorderly tufts. Thick goggles mask his eyes. He barely speaks throughout the hourlong performance. Instead, he chirps, chitters, croons, croaks, grunts, groans and growls. At a fairly frantic clip, he dashes back and forth across the Barrow Street Theater stage, snatching up his puppets. Made from found and scavenged materials, these are strange assemblages of paper, foil and creepy plastic tentacles.

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF Swamp Juice

    Must See for Kids and Inner Child ... Swamp Juice ... the 3D Puppet Show

    Nancy Cohen-koan

    December 1, 2014: I always figure if I ever go to prison I can still make theater with dancing my hand against the cell wall. But that would imply a room with a view so that light could shine in--- I guess I better not get busted till I tire of the magic of shadow puppetry. Jeff Achtem is the creator and star of Swamp Juice, an interactive, immersive shadow puppet show that is having its North American premiere at the Barrow Street Theatre. His swamp is inhabited by a biological community of crossovers from Dr. Seuss and South Park, all over lorded by his imperial weirdness, Mr. Achtem. A virtual whirligig of motion, crazed sound effects and otherworldly dialogue, Achtem stirs up his delicious brew right before our eyes, in front of a bare light bulb Theoriginal score is composed by David Henry, Nick Carver and Tristan Kelley.

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  • VILLAGE VOICE REVIEW OF Swamp Juice

    Swamp Juice Is the Work of a Shadow-Puppet Master

    Molly Grogan

    December 3, 2014: If you have kids, don't bring them to see Swamp Juice. Or, rather, do, definitely, take them to this whole-family pleaser — just know in advance that they'll almost certainly want to try some of what they see at home. Jeff Achtem, founder of Melbourne's Bunk Puppets and mastermind of this zany shadow-puppet tale, is a consummate DIYer who isn't afraid to impart a few tricks of the trade. His arsenal includes a scrap of foam worn on the arm via a tube sock to create a snail's shell; cardboard faces that a well-placed thumb can make speak; his own head of spittle-greased hair; and a party horn that, when inflated, becomes a hungry baby bird. Projectors and screens do the rest, along with rubber balls, plastic foliage, and pom-poms. Audience participation is joyfully required. Gags aside, Swamp Juice tells a gently menacing story about food-chain predation (snail-snake-bird-man-monster) on the bayou. Nothing to fear, though: Achtem is an artiste who not only understands the value of perfectly timed flatulence but has also mastered the craft of homemade 3-D. A high-speed chase by sea and air with paper jellyfish and wooden snakes gets the entire audience screaming delightedly in their seats.

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