‘Mr. Punch’ and Rogue Artists Ensemble
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‘Mr. Punch’ and Rogue Artists Ensemble

Adapted from the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and David McKean, the Rogue Artists Ensemble’s production of “The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch” combines puppetry, masks, video, dance and shadow play to bring the book’s illustrations to life. Its run was recently extended through Sept. 7. Tom Ashworth, pictured, plays a deranged professor and owner of a traveling puppet show who demonstrates his wares to a young boy, a role shared by Sean Eaton and Connor Merkovich. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
In a dream sequence, a video projection depicting characters from the original novel plays in the background as the young boy (Sean Eaton) confronts a phantasmagoric version of a Punch and Judy puppet show. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
Cari Turley performs backstage, behind a screen, while only her shadow is visible to the audience. Many of the story’s key flashbacks are performed as shadow plays to enhance the noir atmosphere. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
Most of the actors wear a T-shaped mask covering the top portion of their face, giving them a half-human, half-marionette appearance. “They’re supposed to look like they just stepped out of the novel,” said Patrick Rubio, the mask designer. Dana Kelly Jr., right, plays the young boy’s grandfather and Kerr Seth Lordygan plays his uncle. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
The 10-member cast must endure all sorts of unflattering costumes. Nina Silver plays a mermaid -- actually, a seaside arcade performer -- who entices the young boy with her seductive charm. Other members of the cast wear bulky, disfiguring costumes that are meant to suggest a young boy’s subjective view of the adult world. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
The makeup design for “Mr. Punch” evokes a carnivalesque race of beings who float freely between fantasy and reality. Ensemble members Don Allen and Miles Taber apply their makeup backstage before their performances. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
Sean Eaton, 10, leans back in his chair as his mother applies his makeup. The actor plays a young boy sent by his parents to live at his grandfather’s house in a seaside resort town. During his stay, the boy encounters all sorts of nightmarish characters. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
All of the actors wear wireless microphones for the play. There are more than 1,000 sound cues that get mixed live each performance. The mikes allow the actors to perform intimate scenes from any spot on the multilevel set. Backstage, already sporting his hunchback hump and sound wiring, Kerr Seth Lordygan checks his e-mail before a performance. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
For the climactic scene, the technical team created a 4-foot-tall tribal mask made of 20 layers of coffee filters that were painted bright colors. The elaborate mask cost only $25 to make and weighs approximately 10 pounds. Dana Kelly Jr., pictured, uses a series of buckles and clasps to fasten the giant mask over his torso. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
To create the Punch and Judy show, designer Joyce Hutter sculpted the puppet bodies out of clay and then made molds of silicone. She injected each mold with polyurethane expanding foam, the kind often used in the armrests of cars. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
The giant crocodile head is an addition to this production of “Mr. Punch.” Made of papier-mâché and chicken wire, the crocodile appears near the end of the play as the little boy confronts his worst nightmares. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
For some of the more outlandish masks, the designers had to balance comfort for the actors with artistic fidelity to the original novel. The eclectic and visually clashing styles of the masks are intended to reflect the fractured nature of the narrative, according to the crew. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
The cast of “Mr. Punch” takes its bow following a recent performance at the Bootleg Theatre. “We love storytelling and using all the tricks in our hat,” said Sean Cawelti, the director. “It was important to us to remain faithful to the original source. But some of the best parts of the play aren’t in the book.” (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)