Monday, May 22, 2017

The Old Man-The Old Moon- The Old Globe and a Whale of a Tale

Did you ever wonder why the moon isn’t ‘full’ all the time, as in ALL the time? Wonder no more. PigPen Theatre Co’s “The Old Man and The Old Moon” tells it all. But, not so fast. This is not ‘show and tell’. Nope, this is a yarn that seems to not have a beginning (“You see its endless and once you’ve heard it, you’re all wrapped up in it and its bound to carry you…”) and wanders into a sea of uncertainty; a no man’s island for the sake of a good story.  

With visuals like Lydia Fine’s scenic design of wooden boxes piled strategically as stairs, wooden planks and handwritten signs to signify places, canvas sheets stretched over wooden planks to allow for a bit of puppetry a -la shadow screening, a rag mop atop a broomstick with plastic bottles morphs into a dog (shaggy dog?) and a cast of seven dressed in an eclectic collection of coveralls, overalls etc., we’re off and running.   

PigPen Ensemble  (Photo Jenny Anderson)
Adding to this rather hodgepodge looking assemblage, Mikhail Fiksel’s sound design, and Bart Cortright’s lighting design the stage and actors, all playing multiple roles and a variety of instruments including guitars, harmonica, bottles, banjo, piano, drums and accordion, the stage and lights fill the auditorium like a celebration on the 4th of July. 

The music, Celtic folklore or whatever it sounds like to you (at one point half of me felt like I was in the movie “Deliverance”) entertains us when we enter the theatre and again when we leave and everything in between including Fiksel's sound effects to emphasize romance, to heighten the color of the mood or foreseeing impeding danger. Yes there is danger as when our old man (Ryan Melia) finds himself in the belly of a huge fish. Sound familiar?

The saga does wander a bit but manages to get back to basics and happy endings after all is said and done in this 90 -minute journey of self-discovery in every sense of the word. It’s charming, baffling, creative and entertaining all at once.

A shaggy dog, a boat and an unfinished journey.  (Photo Jenny Anderson)
PigPen Theatre Company ‘began creating their own unique brand of theatre, music, and film as freshmen, all seven, at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama in 2007’. Along with the tight ensemble of seven who collaborated on the story and director Stuart Carden at the helm this West Coast premiere will be playing through June 18th.

Photo Joan Marcus
The saga starts off innocently enough with the old man slowly climbing a ladder to the moon to refill it with liquid light, as there is a leak in the moon. If left unattended, well you guessed it. When he comes down from his ladder, his wife (Alex Falberg) wants some help in the kitchen with dinner.

But the issue for her isn’t just dinner. She wants to go out for a bit of change in scenery since she’s tired of staying home all the time after years of marriage and being tied to the house. Both have forgotten what it was like when they first met.

                  Ryan Melia as the Old Man   (Photo Jenny Anderson)
When the old man makes all kinds of excuses not to leave the house, she leaves on her own in a boat no less, never telling her husband that she is leaving or where she is going.

He panics because he can’t lose her so he starts off on his own epic journey/odyssey around the world to find her. What he encounters is a stretch of the imagination that touches on loss, memory and renewed faith in human kind. It’s all that and more.

When you enter the theatre with a blank slate and exit with a smile it’s good for what ails you.

Hats off to Ryan Melia, Alex Falberg, Matt Nuernberger, Dan Weschler, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen and Arya Shahi.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through June18th
Organization: The Old Globe Theatre
Phone: 619.234.5623
Production Type: Musical Tale
Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Perk, San Diego, CA 92103
Ticket Prices: Start at $29.00
Venue: Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage.


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