Filament Theatre offers theatre patron’s seats at tables with atmospheric period lanterns (Properties Master: Eleanor Kahn) for its production of the Irish folk musical “Fog Island” adapted from Tom Ungerer’s children’s book of the same name by Emily Dendinger. Set in an Irish fishing village, it revolves around a brother and sister, Fin (Nathan Drackett) and Cara (Molly Bunder), whose small fishing town has been consumed by a dense fog for weeks. It becomes so overwhelming that their mother, Maggie (Lindsey Dorcus), suggests that it might be time to send them off to an elderly aunt in Dublin as resources become scarce, and travel around the village increasingly impossible. Not wanting to leave, Fin and Cara head out to sea to try and solve the mystery of the fog armed only with their father’s (Andrew Marchetti) compass, a boat, and a make-shift engine. When they are caught in a storm (extremely well-handed with basic but effective light (Emma Deane) and sound design(Antonio H. Garcias), they are washed up on a mysterious, island where they, eventually, befriend a crusty, ancient, mystical, and slightly terrifying hermit (Andrew Marchetti), who they think may be behind the fog.
Bunder and Drackett are adult actors who are able to excellently play children, and are very adept at conveying child-like innocence and naiveté (a hard task for the most gifted adult performer). Indeed, Drackett’s boyish, Celtic, charm shines through the entire production. Marchetti and Dorcus were good as caring parent’s trying to look out for their children in what could be a dangerous landscape with scant resources, but Marchetti was more much interesting as the Hermit: inspiring the same wonder, hope, mystery, and fear in the audience as he did in Maggie and Fin (Indeed, at times very young, and even adult patrons, were visibly frightened by him). And while I am not a huge fan of double casting without an aesthetic purpose (and it was awfully difficult to detect one in this case), a powerful costume (Noel Hutzinger), and Marchetti’s use of a completely different voice and mannerisms under the direction of Krista D’Agostino, made him so indistinguishable from the father that it did nothing to detract from the production and may have simply have been a practical choice.
Tim McNulty’s Musical direction and score, played and sung by the cast, encompassed both the heightened levels of joy and sorrow found in Irish folk. This, along with the actor’s excellent dialects (coached by Lindsay Bartlett), Hutzinger’s period costumes, Dendinger’s script, and other minimalist but effective technical features conveyed the experience and paradox of a not-so-distant Irish life and culture: a blend of superstition and mysticism, beauty and hardship, love and austerity, and fear and enchantment so that we get a real sense of time and place that will be intense and authentic for adults and children alike.
Emily Dendinger’s adaptation of Tom Ungerer’s “Fog Island” plays through November 1st at the Filament Theatre, located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago. IL 60641. Performances are Friday’s at 7:30 pm, Saturday’s at 3pm, and 7:30 pm, and Sunday’s at 3 pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling 773-270-1660 or by visiting www.filamenttheatre.org or emailing email@example.com They range between $14 and $20. The play is approximately 75 minutes and is billed as appropriate for children ages 6 and up. The Filament Theatre is across from the Portage Theatre and is easily accessible from the Irving Park 90/94 Exit. Metered Street Parking is available. The Filament theatre is also accessible via the Milwaukee Bus #56, Irving Park Blue Line Stop, as well as the Irving Park Bus #80.
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