Review – Loon at the 2012 Vancouver Fringe Festival
– by Julia Kalinina
The byline of this production from Portland, Oregon theatre company Wonderheads is “A man. The moon. A most peculiar love story.” Perhaps the show derives its name by mashing together “loser” (the protagonist) and the object of his affection, the moon. “Loon” is a show about an old bachelor looking for love, clad in old sneakers and plaid.
The bachelor joins a dating service and waits for the phone to ring. It doesn’t. Days go by but his answering machine only intones, “no new messages.” Until one day, at last, the phone rings, he puts on his best hat, adjusts his shirt collar, buys a fresh red rose for his date and… gets stood up. Red rose in hand, he drags his old, downtrodden sneakers back home in the dark of the night, with only the moon and the stars to keep him company.
That night marks a turning point in the story. On his downcast walk home, the light of the moon pierces through the old bachelor’s heart and the rest of the show is the love story of the man and the moon.
The old man’s face is a mask with a frozen, bewildered grimace and a balding head of tufty red hair. But music, sound, and lighting effects cast emotion into its unchanging features as the show progresses. The loon’s red, sunken, but still twinkling eyes reflect the pain of watching love follow its own course, and they reflect the moonlit clarity of eventual acceptance.
The loon does not speak in the show. Instead, the play relies on music, sound and lighting effects, and a beautiful performance to help tell the story.
“Loon” disarms the audience with its simplicity. The story is at heart about the transformative experience of loving somebody. Bring your heartbroken friend. Bring all your other friends. Who hasn’t loved a celestial object?
The show is visual poetry.