"The Island," a new children's play at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, has no bright sets or costumes. Instead, it has the colorful Glorius Players, an engaging, talented cast of young people who overcame a slow first half Saturday to pull their audience into a wacky "message" tale of misfit islanders, greedy real estate agents and helpful dolphins.
It's a common element of children's theater: actors on a bare stage, no props or sets, relying on imagination--its own and the audience's--to tell a story. It's not as simple as it sounds. Good intentions and jolly faces won't do the trick. If the actors can't get the audience to actively participate, the whole experience can be an ordeal.
The Glorius Players caught the audience early with pre-show banter, lost it setting up the action--the cast initially overwhelmed the small Odyssey III theater space, garnering a certain wary watchfulness from some children--and then midway, with the appearance of a campy, comic villain who gave the play a dash of much-needed vinegar, won the audience's willing participation.
Living on a mythical island are a giant (Ginny Clarkson), an actor who can't say the letter "s" (Jay McAdams), an introvert (Cheryl Crabtree) who copes with scary situations by pretending to be an animal and a character who is not too bright and painfully aware of it (Donna L. Stevens).