Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: (Calgary) Baobab

The Real Jungle
Baobab will please parents as much as their children
by Ryan Hurl

In the heart of the urban jungle, at the base of the Calgary tower, an ancient tale pushes up toward the sky in the form of a Baobab tree. Y stage has arranged for Theatre Motus and Troip So (Mali) to present their beautifully crafted children’s show about “How to make it rain” – Baobab. 
The show is an eclectic mix of shadow, puppetry, music and storytelling, used to weave a shamanistic imagining of a chosen boy who brings water back to the scorched earth. Ralph Propser, Mireille Tawfik, Nathalie Cora and Aboulay Kone vibrate across a simple set that mimics a barren desert littered with Baobab trees, harnessing instruments, ears, and childrens' attention. 
“Baobab” whispers to a dry spot in us all, like any creation story, that tickles and prods the attention back to a place where our connection with the earth was pulsating and unanimous; where the sun was a character, and the animals were part of the village. 

The company create a tiny little boy in the form of a beautifully constructed puppet who must embark on a hero’s journey to find the heart of the sun, and re-unite it with the Baobab tree, which like the rest of the land, has dried up when the sun grew angry when the Earth grew children, but now holds and protects the missing water. 
Told with a lighthearted sense of adventure, this story captivates its young audience. The exposure to the mystical African continent with its treasures of secret tales and a way of life we have never known, keeps the kids transfixed. The authentic African music, and gorgeous visuals that stimulate the imagination, move us toward a climactic state where our hero must confront the monkey, to enter the Baobab tree, an act of bravery he discovers will involve all of his ancestry, all of his mothers, and his fathers - his village -  who always live inside him. 
The story ends with a prismatic release of color and unification, and many a smiling young person and young at heart adult. Because as it turns out there is a baobab tree inside each of us - a whole village, and a little act of courage can go a long way. 
This is a special show and it won’t be here long. Baobab runs until the 22nd. Grab a young person, bound across the planes, to catch this innovative beautiful tale that is both heartwarming and a pleasure to partake in. 

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