Every year right at the end of summer five year old Esme goes to stay with her Nanna and Granddad, but this year something is different… Nanna is gone. Grandad explains that she went to join the circus because “even though she seemed like an ordinary woman…inside beat the heart of a tightrope walker.”
So starts British author Mike Kenny’s gentle play that works on two levels – a child’s adventure going to the circus and an adult’s attempt to deal with loss. While the kids around me were laughing in delight, the adults sat with tears welling. The children’s wonder in contrast to the adult’s awareness makes this play an emotionally engaging experience. (Grandparents – take the kids!)
The biggest surprise is Paige Lindsey White as five year old Esme, whose manner and body language creates the illusion of a child; Mark Bramhall is moving as a stoic granddad frozen by loss, and Tony Duran, as a clown, seems to float through time and space. Michael Redfield on keyboard provides atmospheric music.
Director Debbie Devine, whose stated purpose is to create “adult theatre for kids,” has succeeded brilliantly. Kudos for this magical world to Keith Mitchell (set), Dan Weingarten (lighting), John Zalewski (sound), Matthew G. Hill (video) and Ela Jo Erwin (costumes).
This LAb24 production is playing at The 24th Street Theatre, 1117 West 24th Street, LA through April. Contact is through www.24thstreet.org or phone (213) 745-6516.