‘From Here to There’ at Imagination Stage by Julia L. Exline

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FOUR STARS
Imagination Stage presents From Here to There, a show all about playtime! Brought to the North America for the first time through England’s Tell Tale Hearts Company, actors Megan Dominy and Bradley Foster Smith use a variety of household props and vocal sounds to tell a story fun, respectful teamwork involving play, followed by a “free play” session that gives the audience members the chance to explore the same materials, and make some new friends! Recommended for ages 2-5, From Here to There provides a large playdate with a creative kick!

Megan Dominy and Bradley Foster Smith in 'From Here to There.' Photo by Blake Echols.
Megan Dominy and Bradley Foster Smith in ‘From Here to There.’ Photo by Blake Echols.

Cardboard boxes, sheets of construction paper, and colorful cylinders are artfully stacked throughout the space, with sidewalk-chalk inspired sketches scattered on the floor, around which the children sit in a circle. Before the show begins, Dominy and Foster Smith create origami figures to entertain the children as their peers settle in.The first few minutes of the show is nothing more than movement and sound, with the actors waving around sheets of paper and making enthusiastic noises like “sploosh” and “boing.” This went on a bit long for my liking, and I sat hoping for something more…and thankfully, I eventually got it. And then some.

The actors are opposites, introducing themselves as “two children” who like different things; climbing versus hiding, building things versus knocking things down, etc. They bicker over the props during a telling of the story Billy Goats Gruff (“mine!”) and have a difficult time sharing and getting along, often sulking in separate corners. However, the story of Billy Goats Gruff demands a bridge…will they be able to build one together, or will this play-session end up as a pile of rubble? The actors both do a fine job interacting with themselves and the young audience, and give off a vibrant and contagious energy.

Finally, hand puppets are used to accompany a song called “Will I Make A Friend Today?” after which the children are invited onto the space to have their own play time, using the same props as the performers. What I once thought was mere decoration; numerous stacks of boxes are dissembled and dispersed amongst the crowd. The children leapt into action; building, creating, and having a great time. A cardboard tower as tall as me was built before I even made it out the door.

Encouraging imaginative and cooperative playtime, From Here to There provides a nice afternoon outing. The show is short and fairly simple, but the effects could last a lifetime. Will your child make a friend today?

Running Time: Approximately 30 minutes, without an intermission.

from here poster

From Here to There plays through April 14, 2013 at Imagination Stage – 4908 Auburn Avenue, in Bethesda, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301) 280-1660, or order them online.