The Snow Globe Festival of Children’s Theatre is happening until Saturday evening at C103 (next to the Yardbird Suite in the parking lot of the Strathcona Market). There are three plays, and some interstitial amusements between. The schedule allows for school groups on weekdays, and performances for the general public in the evenings and Saturday afternoon. Two of the plays in this year’s festival are new work, Boogie Monster Club by Ben Gorodetsky and Brother Platypus & Sister SuKat Go To The Sea by Spirot with Khiara Quigley. The third is How to Eat Like a Child, the musical based on Delia Ephron’s book.
This evening I enjoyed a performance of Boogie Monster Club, directed by Andrew Ritchie (most recently AD on Bitches and Money 1878) and featuring Ben Gorodetsky, Lianna Makuch, and Todd Houseman, all familiar faces. The premise of this show is that kids from different cultures grow up with different nightmare-monsters, and that those monsters have emigrated to Canada or moved to Edmonton following the kids they want to frighten. Each of the performers plays an Edmonton kid about ten years old (Vovo from Ukraine, Maggie from South Africa, and Dustin from Hobbema the small mostly-Cree town south of the city), and also plays a monster (Wendigo the malevolent Cree spirit, Baba Yaga the mortar-and-pestle-flying witch, and Tikoloshe, an evil spirit from Zulu mythology that likes to bite sleeping people’s toes). As the monsters, they wore character masks and cloaks, with appropriate body language, voice, and credible accent. And they were quite different. The Wendigo still had power over the child of his culture, and was noticeably the scariest of the three, with big black eyes in a blank mask. Tikoloshe was almost cute, low to the ground and wearing something that reminded me of a costume from Cats. And Baba Yaga, of whom I had been quite frightened when I read illustrated stories about her as a child, was hilarious in her attempts to be scarier and her mispronunciations. I can imagine that she would have had a roomfull of ten-year-olds rolling on the floor and repeating her funny lines and gestures all day or until the teacher made them stop the peeing-my-pants action. But the part that had me guffawing more was when she stood at the child’s bedside musing about how to be scarier and he sat up and said “You can’t monologue in here – I need my nap!”
Interestingly, the play managed happy endings for both conflicting groups, the children who wanted to banish the nightmares and the monsters who wanted to be scary again. There was a little bit of summing up the life lessons that struck me as too heavy-handed for my taste, but was probably appropriate for the intended elementary-school audience. It was clever and fun and had a sweet relevant message. Tix on the Square has tickets for all three shows, but the schedule for the rest of the festival is easiest to read on Facebook.