Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Review: “The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik”

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Dystopian stories usually aren’t cute. They also don’t normally manage to combine death and destruction with disco music and puppetry.

Hailed as the theatrical version of Pixar’s blockbuster “Wall-E,” the Australian one-man show “The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik” touring through Sunday, May 3 at the Long Center’s Rollins Studio theatre, uses animation, puppetry, and the magic of live theater to tell an adorable tale of love and heroism.

“Alvin Sputnik” is a must-see event for anyone who appreciates artistry and creativity in storytelling.

In the surprisingly desolate world of this delightful show, the Earth is covered in water. The ice caps have melted, and virtually the entire population of the planet has drowned. While this sounds like a dark and depressing premise (it is), the show nevertheless manages to be funny, charming, and heartwarming.

Debuting in 2009, the marvelous production has been touring the globe ever since.

Created by Tim Watts, the award-winning play began with a puppet (Alvin) and an idea. While scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef, Watts apparently went so far out into the drop off that “civilization” became a distant speck. Reflecting on the strangeness of feeling so isolated and alone in the modern world, Watt decided to make Alvin into a deep-sea diver, rather than the spaceman he rather resembles.

From there, Watts incorporated his love of the ukulele (composing original music for the show) and taught himself computer animation to transform the puppet show into a multimedia adventure to charm both children and adults alike.

We get to watch as Alvin braves the vast oceans in search of his lost love and the salvation of humanity. We also get to see him moonwalk on the ocean floor and rock out to an amazing sampling of music from the 70s and 80s.

Although the show runs less than an hour, it packs an impressive amount of emotion into a short period of time. And Sam Longley, the amiable 6’10” Australian puppeteer who performs in this production, cheerfully steps out of character afterward to answer questions and provide photo-ops for interested fans.

www.thelongcenter.org