The Lexington Children’s Theatre closes out the 2013-2014 season with the touching performance, Gossamer, based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry.
The story is recommended for children grade 3 and above. The play introduces us to John, a young boy who has been put into foster care because of abuse at home. During the play the audience learns about some of the past experiences he has had and this topic could be difficult for younger children to understand. Through the course of the play we see John grow and change, even leaving some audience members with tears of happiness for the peace he finds through the help of some unlikely and magical friends.
Theatregoers enter into a twinkling blue backdrop which is the perfect setting for the dream givers we meet throughout the performance. The first characters we meet are Fastidious and Littlest One, two of the dream givers who bring dreams to people while they sleep. We immediately see how excited, energetic and curious Littlest One is during the first journey into a home to give dreams we see them make. Littlest One is young and still learning how dream givers create dreams. Fastidious, Littlest One’s teacher, is a rule follower and the eager nature of Littlest One prove to be very challenging. We then meet the dream chorus and two other dream makers, Most Ancient and Thin Elderly. The costumes for these two characters are elaborate and whimsical and help create a magical feel to the story. Thin Elder assumes the role of teacher for Littlest One and we see that he appreciates her energetic nature.
As the story unfolds we meet the humans Littlest One and Fastidious are visiting, Old Lady and her dog, Toby. Toby is a large furry, stuffed dog voiced and controlled by a young actor. Kids will love meeting Toby and smile as Toby and his human actor do some fabulous doggy acting throughout the play. Toby is a special part of Old Lady’s life and is a happy but sometimes mischevious dog. The audience learns that the Old Lady has been sent a letter informing her that she will be getting a foster child. She’d been hoping for a girl but instead is told an ‘angry’ young boy would be in her care. When we meet John we do indeed see that he is angry. He uses harsh words to speak to Old Lady, isn’t kind to Toby, and is very hard on himself as well. Kids may see a bit of themselves in his actions and words. The way he behaves, the things he says and why he is angry are great discussion starters for families after the play.
The Old Lady has a past that more of the actors introduce us to through scenes that occur as the dream givers visit during her sleep. We meet a love she lost and, when the sinisteeds visit and create nightmares, we see how this troubles her still. The sinisteeds are the mythical creatures that give nightmares. The actors and props used to create them do indeed set the scene for a scary sequence. From red eyes, sharp teeth and bones the sinisteed looks very much the part of a nightmare. The sinisteed comes for the boy, knowing he is weak and has many dark memories from which to create a nightmare. Night after night we learn that the boy is tormented by the sinisteed and that the horde of sinisteeds is gathering more and more. The dream givers work to create good dreams and push out the sinisteed’s nightmares. Littlest One is being trained and taught by Thin Elder in the ways of the dream givers. Thin Elder and Littlest One work together to find happy memories from which to use to create dreams instead of nightmares.
It is Littlest One’s care and ultimately her love that helps the boy fight off the sinisteed’s nightmares. Through the course of the hour-long play the audience grows to care for John and hopes that he can indeed fight back the sinisteed leaving you feeling joy just as Littlest One and Thin Elder do as they create good dreams and fight off the sinisteed. The closing brings happiness, a new journey, and peace as we see that John and the Old Lady have created a bond and together, along with the dream givers, replaced the nightmares of their past with new friendships and peaceful dreams.
The play will tug on your heartstrings and remind you that not every child lives the life we want for our own children. Introducing older children to what struggles some of their own peers may face helps them to learn empathy. This is a great way to begin an open dialogue with your children about their fears, past struggles, or even the problems their friends may face. Creating a safe environment in which they feel they can share with their ‘grown ups’ things that upset them can help children throughout their lifetime.
Upcoming shows are Saturday, April 26th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 27th at 2 p.m. The Saturday evening performance is the Pay What You Can Night. Tickets not yet sold will be available starting at 6 p.m. that evening for any amount patrons are able to pay.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office, online at www.lctonstage.com, or by calling (859) 254-4546.
The 75th season of The Lexington Children’s Theatre is closing but the summer is just getting started with loads of summer camps. Both of my boys have loved their camp experiences and I highly recommend the theatre summer camps!
For more information on how your child can enroll for summer fun check out their website. http:/www.lctonstage.org/pages/classes.summer2014.html