Sunday, October 26, 2008

Field Trip: The Witches

As part of Playlab NYC’s desire for community outreach and to support our local theater companies, we venture out from time to time for a Field Trip.

Last weekend I went to see The Red Door Theatre Company’s production of Roald Dahl’s The Witches at Socrates Sculpture Park. Adapted from Dahl’s 1983 children’s book by David Wood The Witches is the story of a boy and his Grandmother, who defeat a coven of witches in a seaside hotel.

Geared toward children, I found Artistic Director Kate Erin Gibson’s direction charming. The little boy played by Natasha Warner, was also a cutie pie. She was even better after being turned into a mouse by the Grand High Witch. Bruno Jenkins, played by Christopher Johnston was also terrific. He has whining down and his mannerisms were as good as if he was my own two-year-old when he gets a little tenacious.

There happened to be a family from England at the park to see the play. The little boy in the audience was so excited because he already knew the story, and this allowed the cast of witches to tease and play with him. Because of the nature of outdoor performances and Socrates Park, the actors played all out. Any wind, helicopters, or cars that go by overtake the actors’ voices in a second. This background noise really just encouraged the actors to play louder, and that kept the audience engaged.

The main complaint I have about the production is David Wood’s writing. There was a moment when I thought the actors had looped through to the beginning of the play by accident. This was only ten minutes or so into the play! Instead of actually watching the action, I scanned the audience for the director to see if the cast had lost their place. No, she watched along with the audience. So I glanced up to see that they're still repeating the action from before - and in a second they continued on with the play. This happened every ten minutes or so throughout the whole play - the cast recapping what had just occurred. It was confusing and irritating.

Other than that, I had a wonderful time. I wish I could have taken my little one, I believe he would have enjoyed the show.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 "Zombie-Zombie"

At Playlab NYC we like to spend our time surfing the internet like everyone else. Sometimes we stumble across a video that strikes a chord and we just have to share.

On August first, movie news website posted a short stop-motion remake of John Carpenter's The Thing using 1980's G.I. Joe action figures. The project was directed by Simon Gesrel and Xavier Ehretsmann, and it seems to be a music video for a French electronica team called Zombie-Zombie.