BWW Reviews: Company One Brings Puppets and Magic of PigPen Theatre to Boston
The Mountain Song
Written and Performed by PigPen Theatre Company, Presented by Company One
Ensemble: Alex Falberg, Arya Shahi, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Ryan Melia, Dan Weschler, Matt Nuernberger; Designers: Shadow Screens, Matt Bialek; Lighting Design, Bart Cortright; Puppetry, Nic Marlton, David Feldsberg, Jared Gerbig
Judging by the triumph of Avenue Q in 2004 and War Horse at this year's Tony Awards ceremony, puppetry is a key to success in the theater world. PigPen Theatre Company blends live music, puppetry, shadow play, choreographed movement, and clever lighting effects with an original folk tale to create an imaginative theatrical production suitable for the entire family and entertaining for all ages. The Mountain Song lyrically tells the story of a father's love for his daughter and the lengthy journey he endures to be reunited with her.
The seven young men who make up the troupe formed PigPen Theatre Company in 2007 as students at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama. As undergraduates, they wrote and produced five original plays, and went on to win the top award at last year's New York International Fringe Festival where they were also discovered by Company One. Having recently received their degrees from CMU, the PigPen ensemble brings the world premiere of their newest adventure fable to the cozy confines of Hall A at the Calderwood Pavilion before embarking on a summer schedule of shows in Martha's Vineyard and New York City.
The Mountain Song is described as an Appalachian odyssey, its narrative spanning decades of a man's life as he attempts to locate his daughter in order to attend her wedding. Despite missing that important date, he persists in his search, repeatedly scaling a mountain, navigating three rivers, and encountering unusual creatures and characters along the way. The original folk songs help to tell the story and the multi-talented actors all sing and play a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo, accordion, fiddle, and drum. The simple tunes feature beautiful harmonies and are evocative of a rustic American past.
One of the main things The Mountain Song has going for it is its simplicity in both style and substance. The shadow screens, silhouette cutout figures, and basic props elicit a sense of wonder from the audience who are engaged throughout this hour-long show. It all feels so fresh and innocent, not as in naïve, but like a throwback to what it was like to put on a play in your backyard when you were a kid. With a combination of talent and youthful exuberance, these "kids" - Alex Falberg, Arya Shahi, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Ryan Melia, and Dan Weschler - manage to mount a solid theatrical piece without sacrificing any of that backyard magic.
For further information: www.pigpentheatre.com
Photo credit: Company One (PigPen Theatre Company)