The Original Bed Time Story

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

By Sean Brennan
Played by Nic Bishop; Michiko Bown-Kai; AJ Braatz; Sean Brennan; Shane Davis; George Hamzo; Dylan MacDonald; Amanda Martin; Pat Ronzio; Fraser Smith and Shana Train
A King’s Players Production
The Arts Project Theatre
March 5–7, 2009

The inner mind of creativity can be one of shifting notions and meandering tangents that can take paths you might not consciously consider.  This play is a fascinating, evocative, if occasionally rambling, stream of consciousness drama where the hero is a storyteller whose his stories have more power on himself than he ever imagined.

The hero of the main narrative is a young man whose mind is teeming with stories inspired by the people and events around him.  However as his imagination works through his anxieties such as about his ailing father, the products of his own creativity begin to take on a life of their own as they push him to make decisions that sail into the same level of unreality as themselves.

While cardboard “3D glasses” are given as a gimmick for the show, the real trick is the surprisingly insightful mind’s eye look at a storyteller’s creativity.  For one thing, the play shows the storytelling process as not a formal task done at isolated moments, but as a way of thinking.  As the main character demonstrates, inspiration can come from anywhere like something as mundane as a bus stop becoming a musical romantic number in his imagination.  Furthermore, while exaggerated, the main character shows how emotion can affect creativity as his own characters start to influence him as real life and his own imagery begin to mix.  However, the pace is not consistent, and it drags occasionally in sections and the momentum is repeatedly nearly lost before it recovers.  Regardless, this is more of a quibble and the final result of the efforts I witnessed is a play with an enthralling level of psychological depth delivering far more than it promises.

In the midst of this profound story of stories, Sean Brannon is the perfect anchor for the wild imagery surrounding him.  Since we are seeing this story through his eyes, Brannon’s performance is deft enough to show the emotional turmoil of his character to move it along with a sincerity and power that maintains the imagery with perfect clarity.  The other players back him to perfection, especially the tallest member who plays characters like an imaginary Klingon and the personification of Frederic Nietzsche with a special knowing gusto.  Finally as a whole, the entire company performs the musical and dance numbers with grace and professionalism and yet can create a moment of utter inner chaos with absolute believability.  Taken all together, this flood of talent displayed promises a bright career on the stage for all the players.

The stagecraft complements this talent wonderfully.   For instance, the use of the large screen on stage expands on the action brilliantly whether it be conveying the intensity of battle or providing the suitably silly subtitles to the alien characters.  I especially liked the nymph ballet with the classic stage trick of a large ribbon of gauzy fabric suggesting all encompassing water.  The result is a special ethereal grace that could only exist in the mind of the creative.  That observation extends to the inspired use of the music throughout the play, creating a personal ambiance that infinitely enhances the great performances into something truly special.

The ability to create stories with both the head and heart is a special gift.  This inspired production is overall a magical illustration of creativity and the winding paths inspiration will lead a person with the mind to follow for a good story.