Nufonia Must Fall


Montreal-based scratch DJ and music producer Kid Koala presents a magical, multi-disciplinary adaptation of his graphic novel Nufonia Must Fall. The story centres around a headphones-sporting robot on the verge of obsolescence and infatuated with a winsome office drone. Directed by K.K. Barrett, recently Oscar-nominated for Her, this live adaptation unfolds via real-time filming of more than a dozen miniature stages and a cast of puppets. Koala and the dynamic Afiara Quartet provide live scoring on piano, strings and turntables.

In the live “Nufonia Must Fall,” which opened on Thursday, the characters are plastic-resin puppets 10 inches high, and their environment is an assortment of 17 shoebox-sized but dramatically lighted sets. The action, switching among multiple cameras directed in real time by K. K. Barrett — a longtime production designer for the director Spike Jonze — is projected on a large video screen that turns the visuals into something like a cartoon performed live, still monochrome like the book.

The T4 robot, which resembles a small stack of marshmallows, usually wears headphones and stores his memory on videocassettes. The human Malorie seems to take on different expressions as the lighting plays off her slightly smiling face; she has a pet cricket. There are a few scattered moments of dialogue — mostly from pitiless bosses firing the poor T4 robot — and there’s a brief love song, written by the robot and sung through a vocoder. But most of the action remains nonverbal.