By Kristin Froneman – Black Press
As Edgar Allen Poe once penned, “All that we see or seem. Is but a dream within a dream.”
I wonder if Toronto playwright George F. Walker had that in mind when he wrote the script for Caravan Farm Theatre’s new winter production, The Orphan’s Dream?
The play is certainly “dreamscapy,” as Caravan’s interim artistic director Estelle Shook described to me before my co-worker and I travelled to the wilds of Spallumcheen on the moon-lit, and frigid, opening night Wednesday.
Directed by Jennifer Brewin, who has also delighted Caravan fans with her return to the farm, the play is best described as a cross between A Christmas Carol and Dr. Who.
Except, instead of a blue Tardis phone booth, we are transported through the time and space continuum via horse-drawn sleighs.
It’s a magical ride, and at times mysterious as you try to figure out which time period you have entered with the brave team of five actors, who basically run around in their nighties, and in this case, in -15 C temperatures.
The tale starts at the farm’s Designery building, transformed into an orphanage, as young Claire (played by talented Métis actress PJ Prudat, a member of the National Art Centre’s 2015-16 English Theatre ensemble) is told in a dream that her brother Will is still out there somewhere.
She and her imaginary friend, Izzy (the delightful Natasha Greenblatt, a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada), set off to find him, and we go along for the ride –make that a short walk to the farm’s timber frame barn.
Upon approach, I expected to hear Rod Serling’s famed opening line, “This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone…” as we entered the lit-up clock tunnel time machine (the impressive work of set designer Catherine Hahn, assistant Adriana Bogaard and lighting designer Stephan Bircher) complete with whirring sound effects. There we realized, by the approach of “dour woman” Jenny Paterson, who admirably plays a few roles, that we are now in the pre-Dickensian era.
The next thing you know, we are whisked off by Tardis, I mean sleigh, to follow Claire and Izzy as they make their way to the future, (or is it the past?), to find their destiny and learn a few lessons along the way.
Now the bad news. All the sleigh rides are now booked full until the end of the show run. However, a waiting list is available at Ticket Seller (ticketseller.ca).