Over the course of this theatrical season’s start, I’ve seen three productions that represent (for me, anyway) the future direction of theater: Folger Theatre’s The Conference of the Birds, Synetic Theater’s A Trip to the Moon, and Studio Theatre’s The Aliens. Though each style follows a different track, all three are dedicated to resuscitating the living magic of the stage. As a consequence, I’m more excited about theater at this moment than I have been in a long time.
“Following” may not really be the right verb for visionary director Natsu Onoda Power, who takes the digital and makes it flesh in A Trip to the Moon. Earlier this year, Onoda Power showed us a daring combination of technical innovation and wistful emotion with Astro Boy and the God of Comics at The Studio 2ndStage. I loved it. So did Paata Tsikurishvili, artistic director of Synetic Theater, who consequently was inspired to ask the Georgetown professor to create a piece for his award-winning company. The fact that opportunities for such collaboration exist now in DC is cause for an ovation itself.
A Trip to the Moon is a paen to our very human need to understand that cold, lonely orb in the sky – we dream of it, we long to possess it, we both love and fear it. The safe choice would be to concentrate on the ethereal, romantic quality of its beauty – but we’re in the realm of risk-takers here, so there’s an attraction/repulsion aspect to this production instead. It’s not as balletic as previous Synetic offerings, and gives us goofy space explorers, glowstick hair, and moon dogs sniffing each other’s butts.
Risk-taking means there will be flaws. But there will also be brilliance.