Tonika Todorova is an adventure architect and a passionate lover of the shared human experience.
By Tonika Todorova
With its whimsical tunes and effortless imagination, THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES weaves its heart-warming story via the new Portage Park resident, Filament Theatre. And on a spring afternoon, these folks can truly transform a Sunday into a magical time. Even if you don’t bring your nautical spirit, they somehow make you long for the sea and for adventure, and allow you to romanticize how wonderful it would be if one day, you were able to open a bottle that arrived via the ocean waves whose mysterious message was meant for you.
Perhaps what makes Filament Theatre so engaging is that no one is acting at you. The experience is entirely immersive as children (and adults, if you dare) are invited to play along and make thunder, or set up a path in red yarn, or best yet, sit around the big sand box and run their hands through the granules and sculpt as the tale unfolds before them. Unlike most children’s theatre these days, the adults creating this play are not trying too hard to have fun. They simply fill the space with authentic joy without manufacturing forced energy and over-the-top acting. It’s quite possible that Filament is capable of introducing our young into the theatre in a way that makes them feel celebrated and renders their participation desired and necessary. Hopefully they are helping groom a new wave of theatregoers that will stay true to the stage even as technology steals away attention spans.
Gene Tierney once said that “Life is a little like a message in a bottle, to be carried by the winds and tides.” As an adult, this sublime sentiment washes over you after watching THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES end his tale. And the children don’t want to leave. And the actors hang around to talk with the kids. You know you’ve done something right, Filament, when, on several occasions, your young audience fills your space with tiny whispered “whoa” exclamations.
THE UNCORKER OF OCEAN BOTTLES runs through June 3. More info at filamenttheatre.org.