On Saturday morning, I took my two kids — ages 6 and 7 — to see Dragon Eye Theatre’s FringeArts production A Mystery? at East Fairmount Park’s adorable Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse.
The 45-minute play takes place indoors on the second floor of the playhouse. Kids sit on a large area rug while parents can opt for more comfortable bench and chair seating behind the tots, but don’t think that you’re not going to be part of the show. Grownups are encouraged to participate, and all did at Saturday’s 10 a.m. showing.
A cast of four energetic (but not in an annoying, fake, kids’ TV show kind of way) actors leads the audience around the playhouse, attempting to solve the mystery of who broke a certain toy. (Hey, I wouldn’t want your kids to read any spoilers).
The children are asked lots of questions “What code word can we use for ‘bad guys’?” asked one actor. “T-F-9!” yelled out one particularly inventive child. (OK, my son.) And the actors capably handle kids who have answers for questions that haven’t been asked and those who have a hard time following directions. (OK, my son.)
It’s a highly interactive show, and I have to admit that I got caught up in the fun, at some point shuffling around on my knees with an imaginary magnifying glass looking for clues and later singing Elvis’ “Hound Dog” at the top of my lungs. And there’s a valuable moral to the whole story, though it’s not presented in a moralistic way.
Dragon Eye’s A Mystery? is good, imaginative family fun in one of the city’s most imaginative family spaces. The company says that the show is for “kids ages 4 to 104.” And they’re being honest with those numbers. The toddlers in the room were fussy or disinterested. But the 5, 6 and 7 year olds ate it up, as did some of us older kids.
But who really cares what I thought of the show? I asked my 7-year-old son what he liked about it. “Everything,” he said. “And the actors were really hilarious.” My daughter, who was pretty reserved and tight-lipped during the production was succinct in her summation: “I liked everything. Just everything, daddy.”
Through September 22nd
Other FringeArts Reviews By Victor Fiorillo
EgoPo’s The Doll’s House Is Not Fit For Human Consumption
Naked Man! Bathtub! Point Breeze!
Joan of Arc, Betrayed: What the Fringe Should Be
Gunnar Montana’s Basement Is Some Crazy Shit