By Dr. KIM HWANG
MINNEAPOLIS (Oct. 12, 2013) — Great seats! Front and center! I was fortunate to bring Amarya Steele (4th grader) to this wonderfully creative, energetic and spirited play.
The Children’s Theater Company production, co-produced with playwright Lloyd Suh and Ma-Yi Theater Company, is directed by Ralph Pena and playing on the CTC’s Cargill Stage through November 17.
Recommended for grades 3 and up, the play is designed to reflect ideas regarding inclusion and exclusion, fitting into peer and social groups versus being on the outside. There are many reasons that children form social groups. And, similar to children, Adults also struggle to obtain and maintain social and peer acceptance. We all desire a certain sense of belonging.
Sasha Diamond, who played Violet and Alton Alburo, who played Bruce exuded incredible enthusiasm throughout the entire performance. The energy of the play brought us into a time warp that allowed the brother and sister to realize that fitting in is important. But, so are other aspects of person’s life. The brother and sister duo travel through time seeking to find their identities. Time travel, an adventurous journey and time allowed the characters Violet and Bruce to discover insights about themselves and one another. If it had not been for the trip through time, the main characters, Bruce and Violet may have remained glued to the distorted images each character held, versus a strength-based image of promise.
The message of this play communicates an almost universal reality, which is, “Life is a Journey.” Well-written and provocative performances kept children engaged and interested. The Wong Kids also included a variety of fun costume changes and colorful space travel sets in the background. In addition, unique lighting contributed to special effects, which gave the illusion of people and objects disappearing almost immediately. I questioning Amarya, fourth grade student in the St. Paul Public School District what she thought, she replied, “I loved all of it!”
It’s a fun and dynamic play. The tempo is steady and the script included a variety of additional characters that delighted in being silly. It was a great opportunity to see the best of what a play has to offer and learn lessons about empathy, compassion and self-acceptance.