Reviewed by Jennifer Benoit-Bryan
Redmoon Theatre offers a Winter Pageant filled with beauty, spectacle, and laughter. The pageant uses dance, masks, machinery, song, and acrobatics to tell a story based on the poem “The conference of the Birds” by Farid ud-Din Atta. The cast of the play does an excellent job and the music provided by the San Andreas Fault melded well with the action on stage.
The play opens in a forest clearing with a Sacred tree that protects the birds of the forest. When evil ravens steal the tree’s light, a delegation is selected which includes a graceful dove and an unassuming pigeon. Their quest to regain their tree’s light covers forests, oceans, and finally the Underworld.
The show’s directors, John Musial and Will Bishop, bring a large group of collaborators together including the clown Fernando Hernandez, the aerialist, Helena Reynolds, the San Andreas Fault, the hip-hop dancers in the Happiness Club, Indonesian Dance of Illinois, belly dancers from Pineapple Dance Studio, and the Indian dancers of Kalapriya. Pulling together such a large cast from different groups seamlessly is a difficult feat, and while I certainly was entertained, the transitions between groups were often abrupt, and the show lacked cohesion.
The whole cast delivered excellent performances. For me, the standout actor in the show was the unassuming pigeon played by Fernando Hernandez. Hernandez provoked huge laughs from the crowds with his antics and animated facial expressions, at the end of the play I was really rooting for his character. Hernandez’s portrayal of the ungainly pigeon was counterpointed in an exceptional way by Kinnari Vora’s portrayal of a graceful dove. The only part of the show where I started to lose interest was the underwater scene with shadow puppetry, the rest of the show was fast paced and very entertaining.
Redmoon is well known for their elaborate costumes, masks, and machinery, and the show did not disappoint in this arena. A favorite machine was the giant bicycle pedaled by two carried three booming drummers across the stage. However, the cannon machine at the end of the production carried a particularly fun surprise as well.
This show is certainly enjoyable for adults, but I would particularly recommend it to families with kids aged five and up. The cast helps kids create masks for themselves in the thirty minutes prior to the show’s start, so arrive early!
Running Time: Fifty minutes with no intermission
At Redmoon Theatre, 2120 S Jefferson St.
Conceived by: John Musial, Frank Maugeri, Will Bishop, Pranita Jain and Rob Warmowski
Artistic Direction by Frank Maugeri
December 20-22 (Friday at 7pm, Saturdays at 4pm & 7pm, Sundays at 1:30pm & 4pm)
Buy Tickets at www.redmoon.org