Book and Lyrics: Dianne Nora
Music: Hyeyoung Kim
Director: Jaclyn Biskup
Reviewer: Maridee Slater
In 1790, Xavier de Maistre is confined to his room for 42 days as punishment for fighting an illegal duel (there is no record of what happened to the other person). Determined to make the most of the sentence, de Maistre writes a travel-style log of his encounters with the objects in his room, breathing magnificence into the seemingly mundane.
Playwright Dianne Nora, inspired by de Maistre and very much of the same whimsical ilk, converges time and space in unexpected and satisfyingly magical ways. Throwing confines of isolation out the window, Nora reminds us that while our bodies may be restricted to one chamber, our minds are free – a crucial idea right now. Having collaborated with and followed Nora’s work for awhile, this reviewer is always electrified by her knack for inciting wonder, igniting imagination, and inviting creative response.
Journey Around My Bedroom follows Xavi (Ashley Kristeen Vega) as she dives into an epic adventure with her guide de Maistre (Starr Kirkland), all narrated by the delightfully enthusiastic Laura Kay (who also plays Mom). An exquisite example of children’s theatre that satisfies audiences of all ages, Journey comes complete with nods to classics such as Peter Pan and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. At thirty-five minutes, the performance timing is just right, but the voyage doesn’t end there.
Myra G Reavis’ puppetry and scenic design is a pastiche of imagery reminiscent of Michel Gondry, conjuring an aesthetic of found objects that defy the traditional rules of scale. Director Jaclyn Biskup embraces the practicality of live online puppetry. Leaning into the physical vocabulary of playtime, one is led to believe that this particular adventure in storytelling is an accessible gift to all. Hyeyoung Kim’s compositions paint hauntingly whimsical soundscapes throughout the show and serve in rewarding accompaniment to Nora’s lyrics.
Surprise treasures in the program invite the audience’s own explorations. This reviewer hasn’t stopped connecting ideas and imagery through deep dives into the overlooked magic of the immediate world. For the philosophy junkies out there, the tendons of pondering could get an invigorating stretch. This piece truly extinguishes any notions of boredom if one is open to the challenge.
There are elements of audience participation into which this reviewer would highly recommend opting. There is no obligation or pressure to participate, but one might immediately regret the distant feelings of watching those contributing. Witnessing people from vastly different geographical locations working together in real time remains a highlight of the experience.
To even the most hesitant online theatregoer, this show is a gift. A creative call to action, Journey keeps giving, enticing one to redefine the possible and animate what might have previously been overlooked or taken for granted.
Runs until Jan 10, 2021. Available on Demand Jan 11 – Feb 11 | Image: New Ohio Theatre