There are those people who know how to tell a tall tale, maybe you’ve found them sitting around a campfire or in an Irish pub. Their stories always sound a bit too crazy, too wild and too big to be even a little bit true. There are myths about the moon, the tides, liquid light, giant fish, dirigibles, a dog that catches fish, and more. The performers of the Pigpen Theatre Co. are similar weavers of tall and entertaining tales and they bring this talent to The Old Globe with THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON.
Playing through June 18th, this show is inventive, magical, theatrical fun. This show is ensemble forged storytelling at its best, featuring seven multitalented young men with classical training, as the intermingled talents of the whole create a wonderfully creative piece where everyone takes on multiple roles as required with an earnest theatricality.
The story follows The Old Man (Ryan Melia) whose job it is to tend to the Moon. One day his wife, The Old Woman (Alex Falberg) leaves home voyaging across the sea. As The Old Man follows her to get her back, the moon, and the world change in ways that could not be expected. As he crosses land, sea, and air he meets sailors, explorers, and has mythic adventures with a focus to get to his wayward wife.
The rest of the motley crew of this show, and the theatre company are made up of Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Matt Nuerenberger , Arya Shahi, and Dan Weschler. All performers, with the exception of Melia, play multiple roles, instruments, and purposes as the story unfolds. If you need someone to hold the light, handle the puppet, put up a curtain, or whatever is required someone will do it. They do not try to hide what they are doing and so it all becomes a part of the illusion that they are weaving.
The songs have a folk rock, slightly romantically Celt feel to them. Lots of stringed instruments: guitar, banjo, piano, violin, with the dash of drum, and accordion. The music underscores scenes, and the songs are interwoven into the show in an organic way, so when the songs ebb and flow into or out of a scene it seems as natural as the tide.
This is the kind of theatre that I love –it is creative and created in front of you without any special effects. The terrific use of shadow puppets, light, musical instruments, bottles, pieces of cloth, and a hefty dose of imagination lead to this whimsically fun show. Bottles can become musical instruments; with a piece of canvas, a milk bottle, and (possible) bath mat and you have a dog and a boat. This cast takes the idea of “players” to heart, and it feels like the best kind of play as they tell this story.
Side note: I have a weakness for Muppet type characters and Lucy the dog was hands down one of my favorites I’ve seen in awhile.
The set is multi-leveled and lit with lanterns and shadows that help give this show its’ folksy charm. Its unfussy wooden planks, and posts with canvas sheets make it warm and inviting while also allowing a mostly blank canvas for the actors to play upon.
So pardon me, I need to return to the theatre to once more see a story with sea monsters with tentacles, giant fish, and a world that goes mad. As one character exclaims in the show “I like a good story!” and the tell a good one too.
THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON is playing at the Old Globe through June 18th. Tickets and showtimes can be found at www.theoldglobe.org