Imaginary Beasts has just one
more weekend left to their run of Impossible Things.
I wasn't intending to write a review of the show, but I did want to mention it because there is so much that shouldn't be missed.
Taking off from Lewis Carrol's statement, "Sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast," the Beasts have collaborated to make a show dedicated to the art of nonsense.
Director Matthew Woods opens the show with some friendly advice: "Please don't try to make sense of it." And it is good advice indeed, because a mind occupied with trying to extrapolate themes and morals from this beautifully silly evening would risk missing some moments of pure theatrical joy.
The major stars are the costumes by Cotton Talbot Minkin and the simple, but imaginative, stagings dreamed up by the company. At one point a railway car appears, heralded by the clacking of umbrella spokes simulating train wheels. Paper hats become boats, costumes render optical illusions and backlit parasols are canvasses for dark fairy tales.
The ensemble of Jordan Harrison, Eliza Lay, Amy Meyer, Elizabeth Pearson and Jennifer O'Connor works wonderful magic in that rehearsal hall upstairs at the Calderwood, but it is the disciplined and talented physical zaniness of O'Conner, acting like a stage three booster rocket, that sends the show into another level. From a Lewis Carroll-meets-Marilyn Monroe rendition of Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend to a hilarious strip-tease, pairing the petite actress with the towering Jordan Harrison, she quite simply defines all of what fringe theatre can be.
But the show also balances this work with more elegant touches as when Eliza Lay makes her way across the stage in a choreographed moonlight walk, accompanied by the ensemble, who entwine her with strings and parasols.
Lay also reveals a very striking and frightening turn of events during the climax of one of the fractured fairy tales.
A word of warning: your enthusiasm for the show will all depend on your tolerance for nonsense, no way around it. And the entire evening could be shorter as there are segments that stretch too long. (But remember, the same can be said for August Osage County and The History Boys!) But, to paraphrase Edward Albee when he was speaking of the Absurdist playwrights: "Let your defenses down, go in with an open mind and, who knows, you may end up having a great time!"
(Photos courtesy of Imaginary Beasts and Meg Taintor Photography.)