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Theater Review: “The Old Man and the Old Moon”

Theater Review: “The Old Man and the Old Moon."
Photo credit:
Barron Henzel

Some plays lay it all out for you. Others, like PigPen Theatre Company’s “The Old Man and the Old Moon” not only use imagination, but require it of theater company, performers and audience.

So when you go to Coronado Playhouse’s lovely production, sit back, relax and prepare to accept everything you see as true or demonstrating a truth.

PigPen is a group of seven actors and musicians who met at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in 2007. They’ve been writing, performing and traveling with plays in their own distinctive style ever since.

At Coronado, you’ll see 10 performers (not always at once) between actors and musicians, all having a whale of a time relating this indie-folk-inflected folktale.

Here’s the plot: The narrator (Russell Clements) notes that the moon used to be full every night until it developed a leak. Now a little bit of light drips into a bucket every night, and the Old Man (Jacob Sampson) has taken it upon himself to climb up every night and refill it with liquid light.

But this day, his wife the Old Woman (Kira Blaskovich), humming a tune she can’t identify, feels like dancing and asks him to go to town with her. But he’s grouchy and refuses, so she takes the boat and vows to sail “to the end of the world.”

In order to get her back, the Old Man ties in with a group of sailors, impersonates a war hero, and goes off on a wild adventure of his own.

It’s a 90-minute excursion into dreams, memory, regret, fantasy and some of the most imaginative stagecraft around – and it’s augmented by PigPen’s own  indie-folk music.

Most of the actors both play several roles and double as musicians. Collectively (and in varying configurations) they play guitar, banjo, keyboard, violin and drum – and an occasional metal carafe.

On Jacob Sampson’s dual-level set, we’ll meet Lucy the white shaggy dog (two mops), fierce storms, cranky ghosts, even a whale (from the inside). And here in PigPen land, a piece of cloth can become a boat. These are physical, but much of the visual magic is done with extremely inventive and amusing shadow play (credit Joe Fitzpatrick).

While the Old Man is gone, the moon disappears and the Old Man and Llewellyn (Ryan Burtanog) end up in the belly of a whale. Oops.

Fear not, it works out and next we see Solomon (Santiago Valencia-Northrup) and Bartley (Heather Barton Tjalma) “driving” an air balloon. How much fun is that?

The cast is terrific, the shadow work delightful, the story charming and you can take your own message or not, as you wish.

Don’t think twice about this. Just call and get tickets for one of the best experiences of the theatrical year.

The details

“The Old Man and the Old Moon” plays through June 16, 2019 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.

Thursday through Saturday at 7 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (619) 435-4856 or www.coronadoplayhouse.com