What's it about.
Four wind-up toys (a monkey, a robot, a dinosaur, and a unicorn) go on an adventure. And along the way there are stories, random conversations with strangers, a deliberate shifting of perspectives and a cookie ceremony - among other things.
How much control do I really have over my life? Sometimes, I feel like I'm one in seven billion wind-up toys, moving according to someone else's plan. It's disconcerting to feel like there isn't a real point to the actions I take, like I don't really have agency where it matters. As I stared at the tiny creatures before me, I was reminded of Watsky's Talking to Myself, specifically of the lyrics:
"As you got older there were days of cold surrender
Days of shrugged whatevers folded in with days of shocking splendor
But as time advanced the lovely days were covered up from view
By an advancing melancholy haze that hovered near the dew
Yet there were moments
There were these pure arresting moments when you stepped outside your head
Outside your pain outside control, outside the bullshit, out of body, out of rage
Outside the need to get it, get it, you will never get it, that’s okay"
Because a lot of the time life isn't so wonderful. It's scary and messy and ugly and we can't control what happens and our default setting isn't bursting with happiness. Or at least mine isn't. But when light does creep in I appreciate it all the more because I know that every waking moment of my life isn't infused with such pleasantness. There's a lot of ordinariness in just waking up and riding the train and going to work, etc. And that's not to say that beauty can't be found in ordinary things, because it can, I realize this, I HAVE watched The Office.
But I sometimes lose myself in a routine that can get rather tedious. I go, I stop, over and over, and the pattern repeats seemingly endlessly. I identified with these little inanimate objects.
The wind-up monkey, robot, dinosaur, and unicorn didn't travel smoothly or straight, and they stopped often, unable to move unless they were wound up again. But it was okay because there were still these moments, moments like a cookie ceremony. That's right - A cookie ceremony. Literal cookies that were toasted in a toaster before our eyes and then distributed to the audience. My piece of cookie was so well toasted that it crumbled gooily between my fingertips.
There were moments full of spontaneous conversations with strangers. In my mom's case, her conversation was with one of the main cast members, Eevin. Eevin wanted to know how it was my mom had ended up at the Kraine Theater and how she was feeling and what she wanted people to know. My mom answered the first two questions normally enough, mentioning that I had brought her to the show and that she was feeling excited, but her parting words to Eevin to sum up what she wanted people to know about her were really something: "Nobody can tell me what to do."
There were moments of quiet, of passive staring, when we were allowed glimpses into the lives of the human performers on stage, the people controlling the wind-up toys. We learned about their names and how they had come to be called what they were called. There was Ayun Halliday, Eevin Hartsough, Daniel Mirsky, and T Thompson. Each person had their story. I thought back to mine, how my mother had discovered my name in a European magazine and had decided right then and there to name her daughter Gemma.
Lastly, most excitingly, there were moments of audience participation, my favorite being the open invitation for all audience members to enter the stage and play with the wind-up toys. I gravitated towards the unicorn, because I barely had to wind her up before she zoomed far ahead of her other wind-up companions.
Tell us about your experience.
In the comments below.