Walk Two Moons | Stage review
Tue Nov 15 2011
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Photo: Courtesy of Adventure Stage Chicago
Adventure Stage Chicago bills itself as the premier Chicago theater for audiences ages 8–14, and with each new production coming out of the Noble Square theater, it's not difficult to see why. The company's latest production, Walk Two Moons, based on the novel of the same name by Sharon Creech, addresses a number of issues that would at the very least be off-putting for the younger-than-eight set: abandonment, tragedy, anger, suspicion and—a common bugaboo of children's nightmares—the death of a mother.
Lead actor Tanya McBride shines as Sal, a 13-year-old girl who is dealing with being inexplicably abandoned by her mother a year earlier. In the post-show discussion (ASC holds one after every show), I learned Tanya is in her 20s, but she doesn't belie that fact for a minute in the show. She and her best friend, Phoebe (Baize Buzan), enter into all sorts of adventures together, including suspecting a neighbor of murdering her husband and tracking down a creep who ends up on Phoebe's doorstep. Sal later recounts these antics to her grandmother and grandfather during a car trip to—we are told—visit Sal's mother for her birthday.
By employing both present-tense action of the trip Sal takes with her grandparents (which has a dramatic conclusion) and Sal's memories of her experiences with Phoebe, ASC's Producing Director Tom Arvetis (who adapted the book for the stage) allows the audience to not only see how Sal is processing her mother's absence but also how she accepts it, an unexpected reaction from a 13-year-old girl. When Phoebe's mother disappears in a similar manner, we see a reaction filled with anger, hysterics and blind accusations—the sort we expect Sal might have had. But since the story takes place a year later, there is an entirely different take on the situation.
Because the play takes on tough questions and offers even tougher answers, Walk Two Moons is recommended for ages nine and older. Even so, it's probably best talked about before and after (if kids haven't read the book). It might be a shock for some kids to think about their mothers unexpectedly leaving, whether they come back (as is the case for Phoebe) or not (Sal).
Walk Two Moons runs through December 8 at Adventure Stage Chicago (1012 N Noble St, 773-342-4141). The production time is 90 minutes. Visit adventurstage.org for ticket prices and more information.