This is the way I want to see theatre. Like My Name is Asher Lev (Westside Theatre), and Let the Right One In (St. Anne’s Warehouse), it’s an intimate setting (I was on 2nd row, center, so superbly so), but the production is intimate too. In fact, the witch that shot out over the audience actually creased my hair, making it wildly interactive. We all had to duck for an extended scene when the wind buffeted us from her attacks overhead. I preferred this to Wicked! No spoken dialogue, and very few words of any kind, it was a visceral experience. They did more with a small stage and small cast than most troupes do with big ones and big budgets. The actors created a potentially endless maze of human forms and movement and sound that is what dance as fine art aspires to be, with none of the inscrutable pretensions. We were transported convincingly into a forest that was like the book version of Tolkien’s Fanghorn, with the trees and other things out to get you. It was as close to reading a gripping novel as a play can get. No wonder they warn it might be too scary for small children – the witch also has real darkness and universal motivations as well as eerily human body movements. It’s not a kid show.
New World Stages is not just a small theatre – it’s plagued with the small seats that so many NYC theatre goers have grown used to. That’s my only quibble – having to squeeze in. That, and I love to see it without the narration, but that’s not the production’s fault; it’s the fault of the people next to me who had to verbally mark every plot point and even sound effects (“that’s rain”, “here’s granny” (the witch), “oh, he lost his arm”). It was like the Beverly Hillbillies discovering a wildlife channel. These people are the bane of my theatre, film, and music going experience. May their records skip, volume knobs produce static, and tuners never stay locked on a signal. May their WIFI always be dodgy and weak and work for seconds, only to be crippled by un-throttled HD media streaming. May all their online experiences be like GoGo In Flight internet. May their cell signal on journeys hover at a single bar. May their videos always buffer. OK, that’s done. Not much else to say but this was great!