THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON
September 29, 2014
The Williamstown Theater Festival Production of THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD
MOON, a “play with music” performed by the PigPen Theater Company, at the New Victory Theater.
This delightful production, performed by seven handsome and talented actors and
musicians from the Pigpen Theater Company, (formed originally at Carnegie Mellon
University), engages every member of the audience from beginning to end with an
allegorical folk tale, which ultimately answers the question: “why does the moon wax
This crew of actors and musicians employ several successful stage devices to
tell the ultimate story: how the old man neglects his job of filling the moon with liquid
light each night, which keeps it always as a full moon, in order to search for his wife who
has left him because he has abandoned his home life for his job.
It’s an epic story of his
journey, not unlike Ulysses, where he finds himself acting as an impostor with a crew of
sailors bound for the city of light, in storms, the belly of a fish, on the desert, in an air
balloon, and ultimately back home again to find his wife there... and did she ever really
leave? It’s ultimately a story about revitalizing memories of young love, male conquest,
devotion to nature, and commitment to another, as well as a child-like questioning of
“why does the moon get small and large?”
The stage set, designed by Bart Cortright, involves levels of rustic wooden scaffoldings and posts, with
hanging curtains that eventually serve as screens for shadow play puppetry. it allows
multilevel opportunities for the agile actors to switch parts so quickly, it’s hardly noticed.
Sometimes they are a character in the story, sometimes a musician playing various
instruments: piano, banjo, guitar, drum, accordion; or behind a screen manipulating
beautifully cut out shadow puppets that show the journey of the characters in tiny, short
vignettes from one screen to the next. All of it seamless, all of it a total whole, a total
Directors Lydia Fine and Stuart Carden, successfully intertwine
inventions and language and storytelling, illustrating complex ideas of human behavior,
emotion, and the cycle of life.
In the end, the old man returns home, finds his wife, they sail off into the sunset, and the
moon has learned that it is okay to have it own life cycle, waxing and waning, signifying
the loss and fulfillment of time: days, months, and years of life, with no real beginning or
end to any of it.
Kudos to this incredible cast: Ryan Melia as the Old Man (and others); Alex Falberg as
the Old Woman (and others); Matt Nuernberger, Matheson and others; Dan Weschler,
Mabelu and others; Ben Ferguson, Callahan and others; Curtis Gillen, Llewelyn, and
others, Arya Shahi, Cookie and others; Co-Director Stuart Carden; Lydia Fine, Scenic
and Costume Design and Puppetry; Bart Cortright, Lighting Design; and Mikhail Fiksel,
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman