by Ed Malin · October 10, 2015
Meghan St. Thomas, Josh Marcantel | Jonathan Slaff
A child today might very well ask, “who are these people raising me, and why won’t they tell me the truth?” This thread is tightly woven throughout James McLindon’s new play Comes A Faery, directed by Shaun Peknic, which Nylon Fusion Theatre Company is presenting in repertory with John Jiler’s Half Moon Bay at the New Ohio.
The force that is trying to unravel the world speaks through this 1889 poem by W.B. Yeats: “Come away, O human child!/To the waters and the wild/With a faery, hand in hand./For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”
Siobhan (Meghan St. Thomas) is a petite, highly intellectual eight year-old who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As the story opens with her talking to a lanky, dignified but rebellious leprechaun named Seaneen (Josh Marcantel), we may find ourselves in a timeless, faery-tale atmosphere. Siobhan’s bedroom is dominated by an enormous storybook, from which she has learned about her special new friend. Other people in Siobhan’s life include her Aunt Katie (Michaela Reggio) and her somewhat gruff Nana, who occasionally speaks to her on the phone. Siobhan’s mother is away serving with the National Guard in a far-away war. It has fallen to Katie, who moved to Cambridge to enjoy her sweet 20-somethings, to take care of Siobhan. Katie, who says she is not ready for this responsibility, quietly cuts out any war-related stories from the Boston Globe to keep Siobhan from getting upset between the twice-weekly calls from her mother. Siobhan, a strong, resourceful young person, is more likely to believe the leprechaun that no one else can see than her elders. Katie picks up an aspiring artist named Raphael (Benjamin Miller) but their night of love is subdued when Siobhan marches back home from a sleepover at a friend’s house. Raphael, who has come to terms with his own mother’s departure from his life, is quite sympathetic to Siobhan and rapidly gains her trust.
However, Siobhan does not hear much from her mother and is worried that Katie may try to make her live with Nana. Siobhan, spurred on to civil disobedience by Seaneen, terrorizes other school children and destroys Katie’s designer shoes. Siobhan is sent to be evaluated by Dr. Neery (Lori Kee), a relaxed type of doctor who should inspire confidence. Instead, in Dr. Neery’s office Siobhan reads an unexpurgated copy of the Boston Globe, realizes that the war is bad and that her mother is in danger, and, encouraged by Seaneen, has a violent outburst. Katie in turn must see if she is strong enough to keep Siobhan, since Nana has her own problems of which one does not speak. The last straw for Siobhan is Raphael’s decision to leave town for art school. Siobhan surrenders to the call of Seaneen and runs away. Can Katie and Raphael get through to her in time?
This beguiling play has some wonderful surprises. Meghan St. Thomas as Siobhan has the focus to bring out the righteous anger that lives within many children. Her imaginary companion, Josh Marcantel, is quite tall for a leprechaun but normal-looking and charming to a fault. Siobhan is a vociferous tomboy who truly needs a reliable adult in her life. Surprisingly, in the eyes of the female characters at any rate, Raphael is a guy who is patient and trustworthy. Michaela Reggio as Katie grows stronger the more she confronts the truth, which includes being honest to Siobhan. It is disheartening to discover all of the conflict on our planet, but there are also good people like Dr. Neery, who try to keep children out of foster care. Siobhan’s fast journey to maturity helps her connect with those who really care about her. Mr. McLindon’s writing is top-notch, examining all sides of our lives, the places we live, the things we read and the truths we choose to believe. For a solid two hours, Mr. Peknic’s direction brings the characters to the brink so many times without becoming maudlin or lucky-charmish. Kyu Shin’s set is a world of imagination whose purpose becomes clear as the story progresses. Wilburn Bonnell’s lighting couples with The Roly Polys' (Andy Evan Cohen and Janet Bentley) sound design to truly scare the audience. Remember, not all leprechauns are benevolent. Original music from The Roly Polys also reminds us when it’s time for a mind-freak dance.