Mixing intense scenes, humor, and a set that spins, Imagination Stage’s The Night Fairy answers the can’t-we-all-just-get-along conundrum with a resounding yes. Using a fairy and a gaggle of garden creatures as the characters, the play’s themes could easily be experienced by humans, making it very relatable.
Based on a book by Baltimore writer Laura Amy Schlitz, The Night Fairy follows the tiny fairy Flory. She loses her wings when attacked by a bat in the woods. Flory is out of her element, living in the daytime in a backyard, where she faces many challenges.
She encounters a squirrel, a wren, a spider, a hummingbird, a raccoon, and even the bat that attacked her. All the while, there are power plays, scheming, survival tests, acts of selfishness, and, ultimately, acts of selflessness.
The opening scene does not overtly show the fairy being attacked by the bat, but with music, lighting, and video projection (reminiscent of a Hirshhorn installation), it’s clear that something has gone wrong for Flory. There were definitely little kids in the audience scrambling for their parent’s lap and a few cries of fright. At other points in the show, there were some less intense parts that still might bother some kids, especially animals looking out for themselves in ways that are mean to others.
But thank goodness for the squirrel! Skuggle the squirrel brings a ton of comedic energy to lighten things up. She makes a joke about picking your nose, and uses facial expressions and physical moves to get laughs. The theater recommends the show for ages 4 to 10. My five-year-old, who had no prior knowledge of the plot, didn’t get scared, but it may be too much for those easily frightened.
I loved the strong female characters in this show. There is only one male among the all-adult cast of five, and his part as the bat is small. While the bat is the villain in the play’s beginning, the actor is only onstage at the end when he helps fend off a raccoon, sheepishly apologizes for hurting Flory, and asks for her forgiveness. Throughout the show, Flory shows pluck, casting spells (that sound like gibberish) to defend herself and not giving up despite tough circumstances.
The set is pretty nifty, with a stage that spins to bring out a giant tower that acts as a tree, and another large cage that is strung with fabric to be a giant spider web.
There are lots of lessons on friendship and the common good wrapped up in The Night Fairy. Flory learns that life isn’t just about fending for herself, but rather helping others. She works with the squirrel to outsmart a birdfeeder. When she encounters the hummingbird caught in a spider web, she grapples with helping her (but does so). The hummingbird mom is willing to give her own life for her not-yet-hatched babies, showing the strength of a mother’s love.
This is definitely a show that left me with lots of great takeaways to discuss with my kids afterwards.
- The Night Fairy runs through October 26, 2014. Tickets start at $10.
- A limited number of $10 tickets are available for each performance by calling the box office. These tickets go on sale for the following week’s performances on Monday mornings at 10AM.
- An ASL interpreted performance is on October 5, 2014 at 4PM; a sensory-friendly performance is on October 12, 2014 at 11AM.
- It’s definitely chilly in the theater, so bring an extra layer. Some blankets are available (ask an usher).
- The show runs 90 minutes (including a 15-minute intermission).
Photo One: Flory the Fairy soars through the night sky when her magic is most powerful. (Tia Shearer). Photo Two: Skuggle the Squirrel is on the hunt for food and adventure. (Erin Weaver). Photos by Margot Schulman.