Review by Noelani Kamelamela
(Boston, MA) imaginary beasts have produced a pleasant reminder of spring. A silly and colorful confection, Kerplop! is anchored by the ensemble’s commitment to the lighter side of theatre in a convoluted story based somewhat on The Frog Prince as well as other, possibly lesser known tales.
The whimsical castle set served multiple functions and was buoyed by color-changing lilypads that set the tone. Movable pieces and lighting transformed the main castle into many different locations. Continuing the theme of color and constant motion, the costumes greatly enhanced the ability of the actors’ to portray their characters. Well-timed audio cues were key for much of the choreography and action onstage. Audience interaction, in the pantomime tradition, kept young ones and their guardians amused and connected to the strange mash-up unfolding before them.
Occasional nods to more sophisticated or mature senses of humor sprinkled the plot (really, more a series of plot holes than plot) to the glee of unaccompanied adults. The windy mixture of several fairy tales, mainly the Frog Prince, ejects a lot of hot air, quite a bit of it in rhyming verse. The whole comes in at about 2-ish hours, admittedly less than a Broadway Disney musical. The intermission is well-timed to keep the little ones awake, but Kerplop! could be a bit much for a truly rambunctious or younger tyke.
The ensemble, having built this work together, portrayed each scene as a singular unit which was part of the larger story. Kiki Samko’s narrator kept the story moving forward while maintaining the demeanour of a lovable and steadfast heroine. Winter Pantomime staples such as cross-dressing, strange dances, commentary on the state of Boston theatre, the singing of choruses in public and on-the-spot improv make their appearances swiftly and exit before anyone can tire of them. The beasts pull every trick in the book and out of the book to create amusement, delight and joy.
As is always expected from a pantomime, its happy endings all around. Even this review seems a bit . . . too happy. This would be the singular complaint for this straightforward crowd pleaser lacking pretension and the New England stiffness which many theatre-goers apparently crave: often, the stakes seemed lower in comparison to protagonists’ abilities to surmount them. Villains dropped as if by gravity, easily and naturally into their defeats.