Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Impossible Things"

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note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Art Hennessey

"Impossible Things"

Reviewed by Art Hennessey

Impossible Things; or Treacle from the Well
Experiments in Theatrical Nonsense
Inspired by the Works of Lewis Carroll
Jordan Harrison
Eliza Lay
Amy Meyer
Jennifer O'Connor
Elizabeth Pearson
Costume Designer, Cotton Talbot-Minkin
Lighting Designer, Brent Sullivan
Stage Manager, Ariana Goterch
Production Assistant, Amanda Loy-Jung
Written and Directed by Matthew Woods At The Boston Center for the Arts
June 5-June 14th

Imaginary Beasts has just one more weekend left to their run of "Impossible Things."

Taking off from Lewis Carroll'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 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. Just when you think the inventiveness has been exhausted, something new shows up.

The ensemble of Jordan Harrison, Eliza Lay, Amy Meyer, Elizabeth Pearson and Jennifer O'Connor work wonderful magic in that rehearsal hall upstairs at the Calderwood, but it is the disciplined and talented physical zaniness of O'Connor, 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, (another gifted physical actress on the boston fringe scene,) 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 possibly 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!"
Crossposted to

"Impossible Things" (29 May - 14 June)
@ Abbott Memorial Theatre, 9Spring Street @ Joel's Way, WALTHAM MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide