presented by Blue Spruce Theatre
Act 1: “Goblin Market”
by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon
Music by Polly Pen
Based on the poem by Christina Rossetti
Act 2: World Premiere of “The Rag Doll”
Music and Lyrics by David Reiffel
Book by Silvia Graziano
Directed by Jesse Strachman
Music Direction by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Kira Cowan
Review by Gillian Daniels
(Watertown) Blue Spruce Theatre’s Faerie Tales has a bit of charm, some nice music, and an engaging visual style. None of these things, however, manage to carry the show on their own. This is very sad as there are elements in the play, like fairies and the importance of family, that I adore when utilized in other media.
Faerie Tales uses two different stories that overlap in theme. The first act is devoted to adapting Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, to the stage. Laura (Teresa Winner Blume) and Lizzie (Abigail Clarke) are sisters who stumble on a magical fairy marketplace. Lizzie shies away from eating the market food and going near the animal-like creatures, but Laura is too taken with their strangeness and is immediately seduced into spending a night among the goblins. When her sister returns and begins to grow ill, Lizzie struggles to find a cure.
In Rossetti’s poem is a potent metaphor for growing up and reaching maturity. Faerie Tales, however, keeps to a surface reading of the text, creating a delicate adaptation with ballet (choreography by Kira Cowes) and music by Polly Pen. It’s a pretty piece, and Clarke and Blume do their best with the material, but the suspense is nearly absent even when Laura is on her deathbed. That’s a sign the story lacks some much needed punch.
Act two is set in a more contemporary world, specifically a supermarket. Based on the book by Silvia Graziano, The Rag Doll is about a clerk (Abigail Clarke) and her encounter with a mysterious homeless woman (Teresa Winner Blume). Blume is very strong here as the stranger who claims to be from another world. Clarke, meanwhile, keeps to a more traditional valley girl, stereotypical teenager persona. This half of the show is more engaging, but it’s also lighter, fluffier, and much sillier. David Reiffel’s music and lyrics are cute, though I admit they evaporated from my memory as soon as the show ended.
Blue Spruce Theatre has put together a twee distraction for audiences of all ages. By combining a pair of two-man plays, the audience sees how the relationship of two sisters mirrors that of two apparent strangers. The contrast is intelligent, but the rest of the play still struggles. I look forward to Blue Spruce’s future efforts even if this one doesn’t quite work.