Presented by Imaginary Beasts
written by Thornton Wilder
Directed by Matthew Woods
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston) Little Giants has puppets, masque work, gender reversal, religious metaphor, interpretive dance, song, tumbling, Greek mythos, Bible references, and mime work. It’s influences range from the Commedia dell’Arte to the modern circus. That is where the similarity ends. The production is a lot to process in one sitting but the cast and director, Matthew Woods, weave it into an enjoyable albeit sometimes overwhelming evening.
The cast is always present on the sidelines as the vignettes play out. The cast participates as actors, tech, set, and chamber orchestra like a band of traveling troubadours. They deconstruct the 4th wall (horrors!) during the transitions between each play and reconstruct it while the play gets to its business of entertaining the audience. It is satisfying to witness a cast so engrossed in the performance.
The only proviso to consider before attending is one’s own threshold for theater. This is not your High School production of Our Town. It could leave some audience members cold.The uneducated might not be able to tell the difference between the structured excellence on stage and a stereotyped nightmare. The cast is deeply committed to their material and the performance could be considered one of the best of 2013… if the audience member can get through the first 15 minutes of creation story, puppetry and interpretive dance. This is theater for theater people but the individual and ensemble performances are worth acclimating to the source material for the rest of you.
It seems as if Imaginary Beasts makes it their mission to inject their theater with wonder and awe. Their enthusiasm can transport the viewer to a magical land where the rules are crystal clear but the boundaries of the imagination are void. The set looks like an 80’s fantasy movie. It could double as performance space for A Midsummer’s Night Dream between shows. For the child-like spirit, this production will satisfy your need for the fantastical and nostalgic .