by Lynn on March 8, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

Michelle Polak as Moitie and Sharmila Dey as Please

At Theatre Direct, Wychwood Theatre. Written by David S. Craig and Robert Morgan. Directed by Thomas Morgan Jones. Designed by Lindsay Anne Black. Lighting by David Degrow. Music by Debashis Sinha. Starring: Sharmila Dey and Michelle Polak
Produced by Theatre Direct.

A multi-pigtailed, colourfully dressed young person carefully lifts the lid of the box she lives in and peaks out. She sees a tree, which initially scares her and she immediately scrunches down into the box, snapping the lid shut after her. She gets braver and peaks again. She gets out of the box and scurries around it, exploring. She sees that hanging from the tree is some kind of fruit. She nibbles hungrily. Her name is Moitié.

Suddenly Moitié is frightened by something and rushes back into her box shutting the lid tightly after her. The ‘something’ that frightens her is another multi-pigtailed, colourfully dressed young person who has heard barking dogs in the distance and is frantic to find shelter. Her name is Please.

The two young people finally discover each other. They are wary. They size each other up. And are cautious. They don’t speak the same language. Moitié speaks French and Please speaks English—the specifics don’t matter, the fact that they have to find a way to communicate does. They are territorial. Aggressive. They draw lines in the ‘sand’ and put on a strong show of protecting each side. They fight over the food on the tree until they have destroyed the food instead of enjoying it.

When the barking dogs return both children must join together to help and save each other. Moitié offers to share her box with Please. Please is grateful until they realize the box is too small. Please offers to share her large and warm blanket with Moitié. Haultingly they make an effort to listen to each other and figure out the other’s language. Communication develops and not just with language, but with consideration, sharing, compassion, trust and humanity.

The play is performed with fearless energy by Michelle Polak as Moitié and Sharmila Dey as Please. Both performances create characters who are fearful of everything around them, until they find each other, learn how to trust, and in each other’s company, find their own bravery. It is directed with a sharp eye and a keen sense of play by Thomas Morgan Jones. The design of the set and the costumes by Lindsay Anne Black is both whimsical and inventive. All in all it’s a terrific production.

David S. Craig and Robert Morgan wrote this charming, important play in 1987. It is as relevant now as it was then. It speaks to kids in a respectful engaging way about its important message. And it’s a good lesson for the adults in the room as well.

HEAD à TÊTE plays at the Theatre Direct, Wychwood Theatre until March 19. www.theatredirect.ca

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