The Nightclub

If the Full-On Festival has whet your appetite for puppet theater, check out Stuffed Puppet Theatre when they return to the Annenberg Center for the fourth time next week.

Australian actor-puppeteer Neville Tranter, the sole living performer with the Netherlands-based company, has done some awfully strange things to his puppets through the years: a few years ago in Room 5 he flagellated one and strangled another, and if memory serves (and I doubt that I have the imagination to have invented this) had a priest-puppet engage in sex with the corpse of another puppet. In the title role of his version of Macbeth! two years ago (with a text by Luk van Meerbeke), he drew a puppet-penis from his fly and peed on the corpse of Duncan, whom he had just murdered and pretended to mourn.

So who knows what you can expect from Tranter in his new piece, The Nightclub (once again with a text by van Meerbeke). Tranter plays Anthony, one half of the "World Famous Duo Anthony & Zeno,'' on the moribund vaudeville circuit. And who knows how the puppet Zeno's former owner-partner died, or what the secret is behind the success of Jacky's Club, where Anthony & Zeno have their latest and best gig. I don't want to let myself even imagine."

The Nightclub, Stuffed Puppet Theatre, April 16, 18, 19, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., 898-6791.

-- Cary M. Mazer