Good Good Trouble On Bad Bad Island
nytheatre.com review by Chris Harcum
August 16, 2010
Theatre for young audiences can be a sticky wicket. As animated films and superhero blockbusters dominate cineplexes and cable television, those toiling in the theatre, especially when creating work for the single-digit set, can feel bested by quick editing and special effects. Sometimes the best defense for those trodding the boards is covering the basics on storytelling and generating everyday magic through steady performances.
On entering the Robert Moss Theater, the audience is greeted with a sign reading, "Welcome to Bad Bad Island. Go Away!!! Or else." The air is thick with a soundscape of squawks and chirps supplied by Bryce Page, the show's sound designer. I was immediately transported to some of the black-and-white comedy films I would watch as a child on Sunday mornings. I half-expected to see Abbott and Costello come tumbling from behind the curtains and even heard one audience member say, "Honey, look, it's adorable. Already I'm won over."
The island's comedic parcel delivery duo, Turtle (Aaron Sparks) and Delmer (Stephen Dexter), come on the scene with a large wooden crate, the protean centerpiece of Krista Franco's set design, sent to the wrong address. Out pops Rosa, the show's heroine, charmingly portrayed by Jeannine Michele, who was supposed to be going from Making Place to Good Good Island. Instead she is taken by Chomps (Lindsay Arella) and Hal (Jason Michael Miller) to see the Idol (Karl Girolamo) who gives her seven labors—and then some!—to accomplish before she will be able to leave Bad Bad Island. So Rosa attends to and competes against some of the islands creatures (Erinn Ruth and Matt Koenig), as well as doing some landscaping and laundering duties for the Idol. All of this is played in a colorful palette thanks to the costume design by Sally Parrish Southall and lighting design by Dan Gallagher. In the end, we learn it is best to balance the good with the bad.
The episodic plot by Joshua Mikel seems to still be finding its way and the overall feel provided by Chad Larabee's direction feels much more forced than is necessary. To be fair, the audience on the night I attended was at least 8-to-1 adults to children. And they weren't the liveliest bunch of adults I've seen at a play so extra credit should be given to the cast for not backing down in the face of that.
Good Good Trouble On Bad Bad Island gets halfway there in the battle against Pixar and Marvel Studios. When the cast danced at the curtain call and brought one or two children up to join them, I wished that there could have been more of that kind of playfulness and participation earlier in the evening. Endstation Theatre Company has a solid core of a creative team and I look forward to hearing good good things about their work in the future.