With a collection of zany characters such as a Moth, a Praying Mantis, a Gossamer Fairy, Figment, a Land Octopus, and a sleepy constable named Bluebottle, it is clear that The Spider and the Fly has no shortage of zealous imagination.
With so many productions that rely on the zip and zing of digital effects, CGI, and AI, it is exhilarating to see director Matthew Woods solely rely on homespun creativity and audience interaction to bring to life a vivid and unpredictable gothic children’s tale.
Directed artfully by Matthew Woods, Imaginary Beasts presents live and in person Kiki Samko and Matthew Woods’s The Spider and the Fly or the Tangled Web (a gothic pantomime) through October 29 live and in person at Chelsea Theatre Works in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The show is one hour and 40 minutes with a 10 minute intermission and is recommended for children 5 and up. Click here for more information and for tickets that are quickly selling out.
Blending vintage with the contemporary, The Spider and the Fly is quite the inquisitive adventure with lots of high jinks, scheming, plotting, sleuthing, and memorable and poetic dialogue that delivers a meaningful message about inspiration, friendship, and doing what is right. A panto is a form of wintertime family entertainment in the UK that weaves in puns, wordplay, jokes, and more. The Spider and the Fly is somewhat a panto within a panto as the cast embarks on an ardent journey to inspire a writer inside the writer’s own head.
Brooks Reeves relishes in the part of King Cumbercrown who will stop at nothing to stop the Panto from happening, even if it means corrupting everyone in his path. Reeves is up to no good and his scheming and crafty behavior is such fun to watch as Reeves’s blue face scowls and sneers at the any sign of happiness and joy behind hypno spiral goggles.
The black and purple painted set design by Jason Taschereau has a vintage and mesmerizing quality while Cotton-Talbot-Minkin’s captivating and colorful costumes exude a gothic, fanciful and vintage edge with a dash of steam punk. As the look is inspired by silent films, outrageous patterns combine with bow ties, top hats, sparkling converse sneakers, lace, corduroy, pearls, flowered shoes and boots. Though it is gothic, it is not scary, but creative, inviting, and imaginative.
The continual audience engagement fuels this wild tale that does meander and veer off course occasionally, but it is difficult to notice with such a lively cast of characters that weave in some random contemporary pop and winking adult references. The Wednesday dance challenge, Rhianna, and random television show references are just a few examples.
Some of the cast depicts more than one role. Evan Turissini is all drama and also relishes in the part of lovelorn, flirty, and attention-seeking Madame Bijou, especially while vying for the attention of Bluebottle, portrayed with British flair by Colin McIntire. Sophia Yael Koevary as Daisy Mae and Jamie Semel as Young Woodby share some sweet scenes. With choreographer Laura Detwiler’s dynamic choreography, Camille Charlier as the Gossamer Fairy and Lindsay Eagle as The Ghost of Mary Whosie-Whatsit perform a harmonious rendition of Mills Brothers’ The Glow Worm. Another memorable tune comes straight from the audience as the cast invites the crowd to believe in a spark, depicted by Erin FM and navigated by Beth Owens.
For a show about inspiration, The Spider and the Fly doesn’t need much coaching as it delves into this exciting production with a quick pace with lots of heart.
Imaginary Beasts presents live and in person Kiki Samko and Matthew Woods’s The Spider and the Fly or the Tangled Web (a gothic pantomime) through October 29 at Chelsea Theatre Works in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The show is one hour and 40 minutes with a 10 minute intermission and is recommended for children 5 and up. Click here for more information and for tickets that are quickly selling out.