Review: The Grisly/Glorious Adventure (Dream Theatre)

  
  

This adventure still has some growing up to do

  
  

Piglet and Kanga in Dream Theatre's 'The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon.

  
Dream Theatre presents
  
The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin,
Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon
   
Written and Directed by Jeremy Menekseoglu
at Dream Theatre, 556 W. 18th (map)
through April 10  |  tickets: $15-$25  |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Fame doesn’t make your problems go away. It just makes the problems you have weirder.            –John Waters

Dream Theatre has worked wonders with its revisionist takes on Classical works, such as Jeremy Menekseoglu’s dark and slightly feminist Agon Trilogy, Agamemnon (our review ★★★), Electra (review ★★★½), and Orestes (review ★★½), based on Aeschylus’ Oresteia. But its latest production, The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon, seems like a work unveiled too soon. Based on the life story of Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A. A. Milne, who authored the “Winnie-the-Pooh” series, The Grisly/Glorious Adventure . . . depicts the withered, emotional dreamscape of a man who felt robbed in his childhood of the very friends his imagination had created to fill its lonely void. Pooh was, at his essential Mishelle Apalategui as Christopher Robin in Dream Theatre's 'The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon. origins, Christopher Robin Milne’s creation but it was his father that gave Winnie-the-Pooh to the world—and bestowed upon the human Christopher Robin an unasked for fame that would cloud his own life in adulthood.

Sadly, the work takes too long to get to the heart of the matter, preferring to dwell overlong in the Hundred Akre Wood of the fictional Christopher Robin (Mishelle Apalategui) where sunshine and innocent security are fading fast. A number of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh’s (Anna Menekseoglu) friends are dying off mysteriously. They, themselves, hardly know why their friends are dying, nor is the limited philosophy of Owl (Chad Sheveland) of any assistance. One can appreciate Dream Theatre’s mission to immerse the audience in a dreamlike state, as they’ve successfully done many times before. The transformation of the Hundred Akre Wood into a nightmare right out of Sleepy Hollow is certainly the most effective element of the first act. But the dialogue that passes for innocent childhood discussion of the characters’ plight is so clunky and unimaginative, the audience is pushed to a state of apathy over whether the inhabitants of Christopher Robin’s world survive or not. In fact, the prosaic dialogue almost undermines the homespun but effective puppetry of the cast.

Jeremy Menekseoglu as Billy Moon in Dream Theatre's 'The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon. Even the scenes between the adult Christopher Robin, under his nickname Billy Moon (Jeremy Menekseoglu), and his Mother (Rachel Martindale) come across as too stiff and stereotypical to spark interest. Distant relationships between parent(s) and child are already dangerously cliché; how to make the audience care about the specific dysfunctional family before them is always the playwright’s ultimate challenge. Currently, Menekseoglu’s script is not up to the task of either portraying this family or expanding its meditation on how fame compounds every dysfunction.

It seems that not much thought has gone into portraying the adult Christopher Robin beyond a bare outline or beyond his relationship to his fictional self created by his father. Menekseoglu’s play asks the audience to care about the man behind the story but, through most of its two acts, portrays C. A. Milne two-dimensionally. The final scene of reconciliation between him and Pooh, his long lost friend, is certainly powerful—it just takes too long to get there – and by the time we do, the journey has been sluggish. This play will need serious revision if it is to truly balance the archetypal Christopher Robin with his human counterpart.

  
  
Rating: ★★
  
  

Mishelle Apalategui as young Christopher Robin and Jeremy Menekseoglu as Billy Moon in Dream Theatre's 'The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon.

     
     

Artists

Cast

Mishelle Apalategui, Anna Menekseoglu, Annelise Lawson, Chad Sheveland, Alicia Reese, Kristi Bogart, Rachel Martindale and Jeremy Menekseoglu

Production

Dolls by Anna Menekseoglu
Backdrops by Annelise Lawson
Design by Anna Menekseoglu, Giau Truong and Jeremy Menekseoglu
Stage Managed by Laura Stratford

     
     

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