Renowned child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim postulated that children learn via fairytales how to overcome fear. With a slight twist on Bettelheim’s theory about autonomy, playwright Mary Jett Parsley dispatches a monster out from under a bed with the express purpose of teaching an unhappy young woman that she can conquer hers.
The Mill 6 Collaborative’s lovely production of THE MONSTER TALES (playing through May 21st) features Becca A. Lewis as a sort of “fairy godmother” bogeymen and Elizabeth Rimar as a lonely but delightfully morose young woman desperately in need of help.
The TALES are parables of the “you get what you wish for” variety, some fanciful and some downright cautionary. Co-directors Barlow Adamson and John Edward O’Brien have a stellar cast to impersonate the stories: (It’s a treat for the audience to see the same actors become vastly different characters within one play.)
Nathaniel Gundy transforms from a noble hearted, self sacrificing hero to a curious, rapidly growing little boy to a man who discovers true riches. Sasha Castroverde is the manufactured beauty who learns about love from Gundy in the first tale, the daughter who wastes away from misguided grief in the third and a young woman who finds she is healed through generosity in the last. Both Castroverde and Gundy add depth beyond the written word to their characters.
Irene Daly is the crusty gardener who learns to love in the second tale, a devoted, dying mother in the third and a wife who recaptures her youthful spirit in the last. Lonnie McAdoo is the blind (in so many ways) rich man searching for happiness, foolish man, in a beautiful bride and in the last story, he’s a man who cannot hear any music but the tune he creates with his hands. Daly and McAdoo triumph as the couple who regain joy and each other.
Brent Bundock’s partially (then fully) completed paintings add another dimension to the accumulating weight of the stories and PJ Strachman enlightens many a character in the Mill 6 Collaborative production. Cara Pacifico’s whimsical costumes are layered like the stories (I especially loved the division of socks!) and the gorgeous original music by Sarah Rabdau truly underscores the emotion of the characters (quite effectively in the story of the daughter overcome with grief.). Mill 6 certainly celebrates its “collaborative” talents in THE MONSTER TALES.