Over the Moon for “The Old Man and the Old Moon”

Many a fable, folk and fairy tale have been written about the mystical, magical moon, and legends on its mysterious waxing and waning. Now gracing the stage at the Wallis Annenberg, is the PigPen Theatre Company, in all its glory, telling their own original, whimsical folk tale of “The Old Man and the Old Moon.” This simple yet large scale (no pun intended) extravaganza, directed by Stuart Carden, with set and costumes by Lydia Fin, delivers a mythical, enchanting spin on “how the sun and the moon shake hands,” and if ever the moon loses its shine. Not to mention the exquisite work of sound designer Mikhail Fiksel and lighting designer Bart Cortwright, whose harrowing, billowing effects and sounds leave the audience in complete awe. Featuring the seven energizing company members Alex Falberg; Ben Ferguson; Curtis Gillen; Ryan Melia; Matt Nuernberger; Arya Shahi; and Dan Weschler-all graduates of the prestigious Carnegie Mellon, the audience is engaged right from the start, with some folksy, clap/hum along toe tapping live music. Their skill is both their palpable joyous energy, along with the uncanny ability to read a room, and react to responses, in a New York minute. The dialogue is filled with poetry and metaphors, such as “a sliver of the moon is a lemon peel.” Indeed, one will never envision the moon in quite the same way again. The musical accompaniment and rhythm via banjo, guitar, drums and even clanking bottles adds beat and humor to a moral fable centering around an old man (Ryan Melia) and his ‘wife’ (Alex Falberg), on a serious yet lighthearted mission in one. In my opinion, the shadow puppets and silhouettes are the standouts of the show, featuring sharks in the ocean waters, and various other creatures, garnering ‘oohs and aahs’ from the youngest of audience members as well as all those ‘young at heart.’ Tales about the mysteries of both sky and sea; ranging from childhood favorite “goodnight moon” to Ernest Hemingway’s classic “The Old Man and the Sea” add to the timeless, perennial appeal of this moral ‘faraway’ predicament onstage, in this case, the old man earnestly yearning (and needing) to fill up the moon with light. How he loves the moon and how it empties its shine onto morning. Meanwhile his wife, the old lady, seeks adventure and yearns to set sail west to the city filled with lights. As he decides to find her, and abandon the moon for a while, he finds himself deep within the belly of a whale (Jonah allegory, not unnoticed); flying in a hot air balloon, fighting off killer sharks; all perilous yet part of a wild vicarious audience adventure. As the dark moon has created chaos on earth, and the old man’s life, along with the tides out of control, we yearn for equilibrium to be restored, so all will be right in the world once again. The stunning combination of catchy bluegrass music; shadow puppetry magic; and slapstick physical comedy, along with an adorable shaggy dog who steals our hearts, makes for a winning theatrical experience for the entire family.

Through March 17
Weekdays 7:30 pm
Saturday’s 2 & 7:30 pm
Sunday’s 2 & 7 pm
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd.

About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at www.examiner.com and www.tolucantimes.com my email is bonniedeb13@hotmail.com
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