Dandilion and the Bicycle Powered Cloud Plane
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
June 19, 2010
A healthy imagination can bring your dreams to life. Dandilion and the Amazing Bicycle-Powered Cloud Plane seems like a dream to me. It's set in a world where creative play occupies every minute and the characters pour every ounce of energy they have into playing. It's an enjoyable production on par with watching a kids show.
It opens on Dandilion and his little sister Strawberry playing ball. He is teaching her to catch and throw but all she really wants to do is dance. Suddenly the Pig People swoop in and sweep Strawberry off with them (did I mention these pigs can fly). Dandilion vows to rescue her but first he must work out to build his strength and stamina. He must also study black magic and white magic and of course watch a marathon of McGyver. Finally he's ready to build his flying machine so he can fly to where the Pig People live way up in the sky and rescue his sister. He encounters many obstacles on the way but he's in for a surprise when he finally arrives.
Written by Heather Coffey and Andy Hadaway, Dandilion has the imagination of a Roald Dahl story. It touches on how we become obsessed with an idea and then everything we do after that becomes tainted with that attitude but if we just set our obsession aside for a minute and look at what is really there we can see clearly again. The dialogue is simple and seems to be written for children's theatre though I did not read anywhere if that is what the writers actually intended. Coffey also directs the production and her direction is in line with children's theatre as well. There is a lot of dancing—not choreographed dancing, but rather playful, childlike happy dancing. There's a lot of that.
I really enjoyed the workout montage where Dandilion builds his strength and knowledge. There are a couple of puppets that appear in a cardboard puppet facade on his way to the Pig People. This sequence is entertaining for its silliness and also for the narration that comes over it on the microphone. The narration is quite funny. One thing that really sticks out above all the other production elements is the music for the show. All of the other production elements are done in a low-budget traveling production style, but the music is incredible. It's upbeat, well-produced, and really makes the show come to life. Nurk Njordsen plays Dandilion and Heidi Girard plays Strawberry. Njordsen and Girard both capture what it is to be their respective characters and they look like they're having some fun while doing it.
Dandilion is a fun show. It has a good theme and it playful enough to make even the frowniest frown turn upside down. It's also very short, about half an hour, so it may be a good idea to pack up the kids and take them to this show. There's a part at the end where they can get up and dance with the cast. If anything, the pure imagination in this show will inspire them to want to build a cloud plane of their own.