Serving as a storyteller and narrator, as well as a character within the drama, the endlessly watchable Steve Epp plays Angelo. He begins the show reading a story from a book, a story from "a time when wishing was of some use," and then takes part in that story. Angelo collects children to raise and then send off into the world, and is left with just two oddballs who've never quite left. Elsie (Christina Baldwin like I've never seen her before, but just as captivating as always) is the super smart young woman who knows everything but has experienced nothing. She's deathly afraid of leaving her safe home and going out into the world. She's a sort of awkward child-woman, dressed in rags and dorky glasses with clothespins in her hair. Her brother Thirteen is her exact opposite - dumb as a rock and afraid of nothing, because "he doesn't know enough to be afraid." In Nathan Keepers' usual physical style of character creation, Thirteen is like a big eager happy puppy dog, who only wants to be loved and be happy and play with his best friend, potato. Christina and Nathan created a beautifully doomed romantic couple two years ago in Werther and Lotte, and now with Elsie and Thirteen they have created a funny, sweet, and genuine sibling relationship. This odd little family is happy, but Angelo knows that he has to send his children out into the harsh world to complete their development as human beings. Angelo leaves so that Elsie will have to face the world and experience the heartbreak that goes along with it (for true wisdom is knowledge plus experience), and Thirteen will learn fear (which is, as Elsie tells him, dread plus reverence). They encounter the exceedingly creepy Stumpfmutter (Justin Madel), who is like something right out of the darkest German fairy tale. Growing up is hard, as these two overgrown children learn, but entirely necessary and in the end, rewarding.
|Angelo (Steve Epp) plays with Thirteen (Nathan Keepers)|
The cool thing about The Moving Company is that often the actors help in creation of the work (this one was written by Steve, Nathan, and Dominique), so that the characters are suited to the particular talents of the actors, whether it's Nathan's crazy physicality, or Christina's lovely voice (which she does use here, singing a beautiful Rilke poem in German), or Steve's great storytelling. Watching the three of them play in this strange and magical world is a joy. One that you really must experience to fully comprehend. Check them out at the Lab Theater through March 2.
*Yes, I borrowed liberally from what I wrote last year. But don't accuse me of plagiarism, I gave myself permission to use my words.