Straight from Australia is a show demonstrating male malleability

The exuberant theatrical show 'Puppetry of the Penis, the Ancient Australian Art of Genital Origami' is coming to town to shake Portlanders by the seats of their polar-fleece pants.

In case you haven't heard, 'Puppetry' centers around this riveting rarity: full-frontal male nudity with a painful-looking twist or two.

Recently, the show's Aussie creator, Simon Morley, along with cast member Daniel Lewry, demonstrated some of the show's marquee moves, thereby giving the media in attendance an idea of what to expect from a show that involves little more than two performers pushing and stretching their organs into 'shapes' or 'installations' like so much Play-Doh.

Each of the so-called shapes have names such as the 'Hamburger,' the 'Snail' and the 'Loch Ness Monster.' At the Portland show, you might find local landmarks such as Portlandia and Union Station serving as inspiration for these unusual sculptures.

Later, at the news conference, reporters peppered Morley with blunt questions in a vain attempt to rattle the creator. Unperturbed, Morley gamely sparred, all the while stressing that 'Puppetry' is a nonsexual show.

What the show is, he insists, is a laughing matter.

Morley explained, aprŽs exhibition, that inspiration for the mirthful show came from his kid brother who showed him his first genital trick Ñ the Hamburger Ñ when they were both lads.

It's fair to wonder if there is something specific to the Aussie character at work here.

'Male mateship is very strong in Australia,' Morley says with a blasŽ shrug, 'and guys don't think twice about making shapes and laughing at each other.'

Morley has played plenty of empty houses in out-of-the-way theaters as the show slowly gathered steam. These days, though, the robust show is selling out in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, and there are eight 'Puppetry' casts crisscrossing the world.

Morley, who won't be performing in the local show, is scheduled to travel to Spain to derail a rogue crew of imitators who've started their own version of the show.

This is Puppetry's first West Coast tour, and three shows already have been added to its Portland run. Still, many have found that the show gets old fast.

'I found 'Puppetry' a wee bit repetitive,' wrote New York Observer theater critic John Heilpern. 'Once you've seen one baby kangaroo in a pouch, you've seen them all.'

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