Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review of The Long Christmas Ride Home at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Long Christmas Ride Home. It was written by Paula Vogel and directed by Josh Sobel. It was about a family that was not getting along very well because the father (Ed Dzialo) was not a very good husband or dad and the mom (Loretta Rezos) was so worried about the dad that she couldn't be a very good mom. They have three kids. The youngest was Claire (Kristen Johnson) and she was very curious about what things meant and about what was happening in her family. The boy in family, Stephen (Sam Hubbard), was very interested in the culture of Japan. And Rebecca (Sarah Gitenstein) was very concerned with how she looked and tried to be very very stylish. It is about family, truthfulness, and forgiveness. I thought this was a really great show. It was very beautiful but very sad, and I really enjoyed it.

They use these puppets (designed by Stephanie Diaz) mostly for the kid characters. The puppets were very beautiful, but they had no faces, which kind of showed how the kids were kind of emptied out by stress and worry. The kid characters were actually a very big part of the story. They start out the play in this terrible situation and then you get to see them as grown-ups too. They aren't puppets as grown-ups; they are live action. I felt sorry for the kids because their lives are sucky at the beginning, and then terrible too in the middle, and for one of them the middle is the end. But it wasn't all hopeless; by the end it showed that there is a little bit of hope in the world. Even if your life is terrible, sometimes there is still a little glimmer of hope.

I thought the Minister character (John Taflan) was really funny and ridiculous. And I absolutely loved his character; he was like a cool minister because he went to Japan and he was really interested in their art. And all the adults are like, "What? This is boring." But Stephen is very interested and intrigued by it because it is just something completely new to him. It was like a new opening in his life, like seeing something new that he liked and that was different from where he was and where he lived. He didn't like his dad and he didn't like the way he had been treated as a kid by his dad. The place where he grew up gave him bad memories so when he thought of Japan it was kind of like a getaway. Another getaway that they had was with the grandparents. The grandparents (Taflan) were very sweet but not very good at giving gifts. They gave them mittens, a hat, and a scarf from the hat. And I noticed that they wore the hat, the scarf, and the mittens even when they were grownups. They kept wearing them because it was a symbol that someone actually did love them, unlike their dad.

Not a single kid in the family is good at being in a relationship because they were trained so badly by their parents in what a relationship should be. Rebecca was cheating on the man she lived with and she had just become pregnant as well which showed a lot about how she had been influenced by her parents' decisions. Claire actually seemed like she could have had a good relationship if it wasn't for her girlfriend cheating on her. She was more like her mother and she chose a bad person for her. Each of the kids as a grown-up is left out waiting at the door of the person they are in love with. I think those scenes are in the play to show how this family is bleeped-up because of the terrible things their parents did in the first place. They are so close to being with the person that they love but then the person that they love is so far away from them in a metaphorical sense.

People who would like this show are people who like cool puppets, sad but hopeful stories, and presents from the trash. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I thought it was very interesting, fun, and lovely. It is a very dark but funny Christmas story.

Photos: KBH Media

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