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Pictured: Mariah Copeland. Photo by Christian Libonati.
By Toniak Todorova
There is another magical happening at Filament Theatre this spring with their adaptation of THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE. A timeless tale made for the young who haven’t learned yet and the old who seemed to have forgotten: love and being loved is the most powerful drive; love is the only answer.
The uniqueness of the type of children’s theatre that Filament brings to the stage lies in their Mr. Rogers approach. They don’t employ over the top energy and bells and whistles to entertain our young but instead rely on slowing down time to connect and tap into the infinite imagination that kids have- a skill we often forget that we, ourselves, used to possess. This process allows this theatre company to reach the heart in an authentic way, often washing you over with goosebumps and feel goods. This production is no exception. Without any feigned sadness, it tackles plenty of heavy subjects such as loneliness, hardship, even death—plenty of the suffering we usually try to shield our children from, consequently not preparing them for what they ultimately have to experience. Filament has taken on the responsibility to gently usher our children into understanding the world as it is and that beauty can exist even in the most dreadful of times.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to cast performers who bring the genuine to the table. Juanita Andersen, Mariah Copeland and Alejandro Tey seamlessly weave in and out of several characters, each with its own physical, vocal and emotional attribute and Nik Kmiecik delivers a gentle personality to Edward Tulane, the one of a kind rabbit doll. Even more kudos to these performers as they kept their cool and their spirits up during what felt like a very frustrating three-quarters of the play overshadowed by a child who was too young to appreciate the depth of the story and couldn’t avoid talking rather loudly or roam about. Perhaps, the first twenty minutes feel a bit more expository and less active as we are introduced to the story, but once the breeze of the blue waves hits our faces, the action takes hold and doesn’t let go—not through the bottom of the ocean floor and not through a fisherman’s village, not in a garbage heap and not while riding in a box car, not in the hands of a dying child and definitely not while staring at the starry constellations where millions of dreamers have found respite.
THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE leaves you with a full heart and plenty to ponder. Overarching themes such as love and sense of purpose come alive in a simple coming of age tale of a doll rabbit, but perhaps the sentiment that resonates the loudest is better described by the words of Mr. Rogers, himself: “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never dream of. There is something of yourself you leave at every meeting with another person.”
Just like there is something this story leaves with every child (and adult) that sees it.
“The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” runs through May 30. For more information visit filamenttheatre.org.