Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fire up the shrink ray

Redmoon keeps getting smaller and smaller. After the success of their ode to tichyness, “The Cabinet,” they’ve moved on to toy theatres about the size of a high-end flatscreen, where the bitsy action is filmed live and projected on a wall. I expect that the challenge of constant reduction will excite them, as in this charming neo-Borgesian story, and look forward to the day when Redmoon shows will involve solemn single viewing, and microscopes.

So, last night, I saw “Once upon a time, or the Secret Language of Birds.” The puppets and the set and the tiny little props were entrancing, and Redmoon continues to be generous to its viewers. Their stories do tend to flag, but there is always Something Else to look at. This particular story- about a little girl and a wrestler gone to seed who rescue all the birds of the world from a malevolent thief, was nicely paced, but too sweet by two halves. The plot was all right, but the heroine was downright treacly. Emily, a little girl of infinite cuteness and equal wisdom who saves the day through the thin bright power of her extra-pure heart. It didn’t help that the actress who narrated made Emily’s voice sound like Baby June’s.

And of course, she taught the adults in the story an important lesson, a common symptom of fiction in the young. Actual children don’t know more than we do. They know less. They know fewer bad things, though, which might be the source of confusion. Most of us will probably learn something from a child some day, but it will be the sort of thing no child could understand, or articulate. Storybook prophets like Emily, on the other hand, teach via lecture.

And yes, I get that Redmoon was trying to tell a fairy-tale children’s story here. It’s no excuse. Please witness (from recent years) Lilo, of “Lilo and Stitch,” Coraline, of “Coraline.” Going back further, the Pensevie children, and even Alice. Just because you’re a small girl and you don't exist doesn’t mean you’re not a person.


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