The Flying Trunk | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Flying Trunk 

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THE FLYING TRUNK, Griffin Theatre Company. In this perky, innocuous adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story, a boy named Tom finds love thanks to three goofy genies. But unlike most fairy tales, which have a relentless logic despite magical characters and unusual destinies, this story makes sense only loosely. When Tom meets the genies, they all travel on a joyride to Turkey, where a story unrelated to earlier events ends in Tom's near decapitation and eventual happy marriage to a wealthy princess.

The usual participatory shtick is part of this Griffin Theatre staging. Children have a chance to give the characters advice, help their magic spells along, and hiss the bad guy. The flying-trunk special effect is charming, and the actors perform with wide-eyed enthusiasm. But they all seemed to be expecting certain reactions from the audience, responding unimaginatively when they didn't get them. To be fair, the small audience must have been a challenge to a cast trained to whip big groups of children into shouts and laughter. But I was disappointed by the actors' awkward pauses.

When a genie announces the moral, we know it's the end of this short, cheerful production, which will certainly do children no harm. But the announcement reflects a pedantic edge that takes some of the fun out of a goofy patchwork of storytelling.

--Carol Burbank

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