Reviews from WeeFestival: Tweet Tweet, Old Man and the River, and My Silly Yum

by Lynn on May 23, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming on the WeeFestival site Until May 24:

The following three productions at the WeeFestival are story-driven, almost wordless and involve sounds to tell the story.

Tweet Tweet

Produced by Femmes du Feu Creations (Canada)

Created, and choreographed by Lindsay Goodtimes  Holly Treddenick and Monica Dottor

Directed by Monica Dottor

Apparatus creation by Upstage Fabrication Inc.

Set by Kelsey Carrier

Sound by Monica Dottor

Lighting by Ian Goodtimes

Costume by Tanis Sydney McArthur

Digital Production by Upstage Dynamics

Performed by:

Lindsay Goodtimes (Blue Bird)

Holly Treddenick (Red Bird)

With Ivy Benedetti

Winter Benedetti

Arlo Hollyman

Ian Goodtimes (Bird Watcher)

For children 3 +

Tweet Tweet Is a gem of a show that is performed without words but plenty of bird sounds. Two small birds awake in their separate nests high in a magical tree (created with ropes), discover each other and the world in which they live. The gifted Monica Dottor directs and co-choreographed the piece. The birds wake up to the Flower Duet from Lakmé with liberal sprinklings of music from The Magic FluteOde to Joy, and others selections. Glorious.


It’s a contemporary circus show about two baby birds, each in its own nest, who are born at the same time, discover each other, learn to play and fly with each other.

It was directed with whimsy, wit and imagination by the always creative Monica Dottor. To accommodate the new digital world and the absence of an audience, director Monica Dottor has engaged three children to act as the audience. They observe, through binoculars (made of toilet paper rolls), the nests of the birds in miniature. The streamed viewing audience sees the birds in their nests and the tree from which they are suspended, full up. The air is a sweet cacophony of birdsong and chirps. There are aerial shots of the birds in their nests, twirling around the tree truck; there are video shots of the children gleefully watching the birds, interspersed with the audience watching the birds up close. That combination is both inventive and engaging. The viewer enters that tweeting world.

When the show starts we see movement in the nests. Something is encased in a flexible covering and is moving and bursting to get out. When these birds break out of their ‘eggs’ they do it to the wonderful “Flower Duet” from Lakmé. The birds stretch, move and grow into the world to this incredible music. And at every turn, they discover their voices and “Tweet. Tweet” to each other. The two birds are in very colourful body suits, one red and one blue with flaps of billowy material that flows out. Feathers. The birds rise up and swing on the ropes holding the nests. Pretty soon they pull beautiful brightly coloured material out of their nests and throw them into the air to land on the floor. This is followed by long, slinky scarves and feathers. The music of Mozart and Elgar is played and there is a rousing rendition of “Rockin’ Robin” to boot, as the birds grow, mature and becomes fearless. For further whimsy, Dottor has added the word “CHEEESBURGER” to the birds’ vocabulary, said with the same high-piercing sound. Hilarious.

Old Man and the River (Canada)

Created by Lynda Hill and Thomas Morgan Jones

Concept, dramaturgy and direction by Lynda Hill

Inspired by the story by Thomas Morgan Jones

Original production design by Kelly Wolf

Original music by Nicky Phillips

Original Lighting design by Jennifer Lemmon

Puppetry by Mike Peterson and eric Woolfe

Videography by Alexander Gangurian

Performed by: Kira Hall

Ingrid Hansen

Mike Peterson

Andrew Young

A touching story of the power of friendship.

Old man lives a simple, grumpy life. He rises from his sleep to growl at the leaves that accumulate on his doorstep and in his house. With great effort, grunting and creaking bones, he gets up and sweeps the leaves away: “Sweep, sweep, sweep” he says. He grumbles at the trees that drop the leaves in his way. He goes to the river, sits on the bridge and fishes until the sun goes down. Then he trudges home to sleep. The next day is the same except at the bridge, while fishing, the river fairy arose from the water and flitted around him, gleeful, happy, joyful. Old man is annoyed and waves off the visitor. Old man trudges home again. When he goes to the bridge to fish again he looks for the river fairy. He misses ‘him’. He trudges home again, sad at missing this magical presence. And then something wonderful happens.

The puppets by Mike Peterson and Eric Woolfe are wonderful; old man is hunched, craggy-faced, scowling; the river is suggested by shimmering material with sparkly sequins; leaves float everywhere.

Four puppeteers work the puppets: old man, the trees, the river, the sun, moon and the river fairy. The puppeteers are totally focused on the puppets and so are we. The puppeteers are in brown hats, brown shirts and pants and vests. They also wear brown gloves, the better to be ‘invisible.’

Director Lynda Hill has directed this with sensitivity and spareness. You can feel the aches and pains of old man as he creaks and grunts to get up; you can sense his grumpiness with every growl at anything that annoys him, and the slump of his shoulders expresses such sadness.

The music by Nicky Phillips captures the sense of the rising of the sun, the humour of the trees and the joyfulness of the river fairy.  There are just enough grunts, creaks and sounds for old man to convey his age and effort to move. Moving and tender.

My Silly Yum

Jot & Tittle (Montreal)

Created and performed by Gabriela Petrov and Alexandra Montagnese

Directed by Myrna Wyatt-Selkirk

Design collaborator, Darah Miah

Music composed by Nigel Ward

Maminka and Button come to the forest to look for mushrooms. Maminka (Buttons’ mother? I assume so) is calm to the point of being perpetually tired. Button is diminutive, is curious, active and lively. “She” (sorry, the puppet looks like it’s wearing a shift so I assume rightly or wrongly that Button is a little girl). Button carries a mushroom book to be able to identify the mushrooms that are found. As soon as they arrive, Maminka gets drowsy and lays down on the ground to nap. Button cuddles the sleeping Maminka but then goes off to look for mushrooms. Button finds lots of lively mushrooms that appear from nowhere and is excited. There is a cluster of many mushrooms, some seductive, that dazzle Button until Button realizes she is lost. She cries out for “Ma!” until they are re-united. Button is breathless in acting out all the adventures she found in the woods until Maminka calms her down by breathing slowly which gets Button to breathe slowly.

Considering the economy of sounds in Tweet Tweet and Old Man and the River to tell the story, My Silly Yum is overloaded with sounds. Maminka sighs at every move. Button gasps, grunts, pants, utters “Huh?” “Wah?” and exclaims every time she is surprised by anything, which is often. The appearance of mushrooms is accompanied by a squeak or sound of surprise from the mushrooms. The excessive dependence of sounds of excitement of it all over powers the story and makes it seem rather thin. The creation of the puppets is imaginative and the manipulation of the puppets is dexterous, but I found the piece, on the whole, a disappointment.

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