by Judith Jarosz · August 12, 2014
Marvellous is an energetic tale about an orphan in a medieval abbey who loves telling stories, stows away on a ship in the sky and finds himself in the dream he's been waiting for. Billed as, "An illuminated adventure for all ages, with puppets and pirates”, this piece is presented by a talented, hard working group of performers.
The bumbling Verbatim is a young orphan at a medieval Abbey who loves words and stories, and longs for thrills and quests. The monks who care for the boy are an amusingly motley group who, though fond of him, try to convince him how unrealistic his dreams may be. This theory is stopped in its tracks when a flying sky ship called “Marvellous” (British spelling with two L’s) snags its anchor on an Abbey spire and Verbatim shimmies up the rope to start his adventures! What ensues is a madcap, sometimes confusing series of events involving a fellow female orphan who is a stowaway on the ship. Her name is Senza, and she becomes Verbatim’s partner and soul mate in the many challenges to come. This includes fending off barbaric pirates and eventually another ragged group of outcasts in London, who use a mind sucking machine to keep people captive in their very own dream world.
The cast is strong, with Verbatim played endearingly by Ryan Zachary Ward, who gives him a nice balance of smarts and naiveté, while Alex Spieth bring us a Senza with plenty of brazen humor and bravado. The many characters that swirl around the two leads are sharply drawn and hilariously played out by four artists, Tim Elliott, Sara Glancy, Kristina Mueller & Amalia Oswald, who manage to capture broadly etched personality traits for each and every one of them. Special kudos go to Mr. Elliot for his smilingly slimy Antigonus Maugre, the purveyor of the mind machine, who walks the line of kind and evil like a schizophrenic Willy Wonka.
The puppet design by Daniel Dobrosielski & graphic design by Kelly Van Dilla include clever projections, and the simple square grid set by Josh Smith creates a solid framework for the many varying locations needed for this piece. Costumes by Herin Kaputkin capture a nice lush storybook quality, while the lighting design by Ken Wills greatly enhances the overall fantasy feeling of the piece.
Director Elizabeth Nearing does a very nice job of keeping all of the upbeat chaos cohesive, and I love the way that the script by Matt Minnicino emphasizes the importance of words, especially in the beginning, using words like pun, euphemism & metaphor in ways that will spark kids understanding. If the 90 minute show could be trimmed just a bit, it might make it even stronger, and a wonderful piece to tour to schools.