Performing Arts: Theater
September 29, 2014
The Williamstown Theater Festival Production of THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON, a “play with music” performed by the PigPen Theater Company, at the New Victory Theater. This delightful production, performed by seven handsome and talented actors and musicians from the Pigpen Theater Company, (formed originally at Carnegie Mellon University), engages every member of the audience from beginning to end with an allegorical folk tale, which ultimately answers the question: “why does the moon wax and wane?”

This crew of actors and musicians employ several successful stage devices to tell the ultimate story: how the old man neglects his job of filling the moon with liquid light each night, which keeps it always as a full moon, in order to search for his wife who has left him because he has abandoned his home life for his job.

It’s an epic story of his journey, not unlike Ulysses, where he finds himself acting as an impostor with a crew of sailors bound for the city of light, in storms, the belly of a fish, on the desert, in an air balloon, and ultimately back home again to find his wife there... and did she ever really leave? It’s ultimately a story about revitalizing memories of young love, male conquest, devotion to nature, and commitment to another, as well as a child-like questioning of “why does the moon get small and large?”

The stage set, designed by Bart Cortright, involves levels of rustic wooden scaffoldings and posts, with hanging curtains that eventually serve as screens for shadow play puppetry. it allows multilevel opportunities for the agile actors to switch parts so quickly, it’s hardly noticed. Sometimes they are a character in the story, sometimes a musician playing various instruments: piano, banjo, guitar, drum, accordion; or behind a screen manipulating beautifully cut out shadow puppets that show the journey of the characters in tiny, short vignettes from one screen to the next. All of it seamless, all of it a total whole, a total world.

Directors Lydia Fine and Stuart Carden, successfully intertwine inventions and language and storytelling, illustrating complex ideas of human behavior, emotion, and the cycle of life.

In the end, the old man returns home, finds his wife, they sail off into the sunset, and the moon has learned that it is okay to have it own life cycle, waxing and waning, signifying the loss and fulfillment of time: days, months, and years of life, with no real beginning or end to any of it.

Kudos to this incredible cast: Ryan Melia as the Old Man (and others); Alex Falberg as the Old Woman (and others); Matt Nuernberger, Matheson and others; Dan Weschler, Mabelu and others; Ben Ferguson, Callahan and others; Curtis Gillen, Llewelyn, and others, Arya Shahi, Cookie and others; Co-Director Stuart Carden; Lydia Fine, Scenic and Costume Design and Puppetry; Bart Cortright, Lighting Design; and Mikhail Fiksel, Sound Design.

EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

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