Theatre in the Park’s production of The Old Man and The Old Moon is a quirky, sweet show that is surprisingly sophisticated and satisfying.
An Old Man and an Old Woman live on an island. He is the caretaker of the moon. She dutifully cares for him. But she longs for adventure, a dance or maybe a journey around the world. He is content with the way things are, blindly unaware of her feeling of isolation. But when she unexpectedly leaves, a tuna of a tale (not to be confused with a whale) unfolds, and he embarks on a quest to find the Old Woman, ultimately reconnecting with himself and humanity.
As the Old Man and Old Woman, Rod Rich and Natalie Turgeon are lovely, albeit somewhat mismatched, which may be the point. The ensemble is comprised of a band of players, many of whom double as musicians and take on dual roles. And although there are plenty of fine performances throughout, the focus here is on the wholeness of the production more so than the individuals.
The genius of The Old Man and The Moon is in its deceptive simplicity. It’s a blank canvas subject to interpretation and boundless creativity. Masterful lighting by Alicia Varcoe, along with Abigail Kuchar’s puppets, cast a symphony of shadows against Nathaniel Conti’s woody set. Deliberately curated and beautifully orchestrated music selections by Katherine Anderson, befit and romanticize a seafaring sound. Collectively, the theatricality of the storytelling ennobles the simple fable, which is a credit to Director Nancy Rich, the visionary behind the spectacle.
The best way to enjoy The Old Man and The Old Moon is to leave skepticism at the door and surrender to childlike wonder, even if the show’s modest message about pacts made and promises broken feels very grown-up.