“Pero, or the Mysteries of the Night” – Childsplay

This review aired on KBAQ February 1, 2016


Childsplay, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Childsplay consistently mounts creatively flamboyant shows for young audiences that are also interesting for adults.  The current production, “Pero, or the Mysteries of the Night,” is a marvelously well produced and entertaining delight that tells a simple fairytale but the wondrous staging leaves you clueless about the next exciting twist or turn is coming.  This 70-minute production held young audiences at the opening performance in quiet awe afraid to make a movement or say anything for fear of missing some clever or creative tidbit.  The play also enchanted the adults equally.

Based on the book, “Pierrot ou les secrets de la nuit,” the play is devised by Childsplay and Speeltheater Holland.  It focuses on two young people in a small Italian town.  Pero is the town baker and Columbina is the washer woman.  With the Sun and the Moon playing the stories narrators, the simple love story plays out on a charmingly designed and imaginative set created by the play’s director Onny Huisink.  The story is told by four performers who speak through charmingly designed puppets.

As Childsplay points out, telling the story through puppets allows the inanimate objects to do and say things that humans couldn’t do so the story evolves with wry sophistication that charm the children and fascinate the adults.

Into this charming tale, four Childsplay regulars who are some of the finest Valley performers tell the story.  Kristen Drathman and Dwayne Hartford essay the Sun and Moon as they stunningly narrate the story through catchy and attention getting dialogue delivery, clever movement, and stalwart singing of some pleasant little tunes that add to the production’s appeal.  Playing Pero is master storyteller Jon Gentry while Katie McFadzen is the sweetly coy Colombina.  This pair work beautifully together as they craft believable characters the kids admire.  Add marvelously cued lighting, charming scenery, and pleasant musical interludes to craft a brightly entertaining production.

“Pero, or the Mysteries of the Night” is another in Childsplay’s long line of enchanting productions that charm children and entrance older audiences with their endless creativity, spark, and stylish production values.  It earns five stars out of five and continues through Sunday (February 7).  “Pero…” is not a Childsplay production to miss.  For tickets, call the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822, ext. 2 or order online at www.childsplayaz.org.

Grade: A