New Ohio Theatre's 'Journey Around My Bedroom' provides an inspiring escape
It's a new year yet everything feels the same. As the pandemic continues with staying at home the norm, it can be easy to become overwhelmed, bored, and sad, often all at once. New Ohio Theatre offers a pleasant distraction from our current events in Journey Around My Bedroom. For parents looking for a refreshing activity for their children, puppetry lovers, and those in need of a lift, read on.
Journey Around My Bedroom centers on the young, restless Xavi (Ashley Kristeen Vega), who during quarantine has understandably grown discontent with her surroundings. After what seems like yet another day of playing video games, hanging out with Mom (Laura Kay) and her dog, Joseph, and missing her friends, an unexpected visitor appears in her room. It turns out to be none other than Xavier de Maistre (Starr Kirkland), an amusing yet surprisingly philosophical Frenchman with an assortment of cartoonish catchphrases. He teaches Xavi the art of room traveling, or "exploring wonders within one's room". Together they reach new heights by discovering how bravery comes when we least expect it, but need it most.
Taking inspiration from the real Xavier de Maistre's work, Dianne Nora spins a delightful, new tale for children to take comfort in. Myra G. Reavis's scenic/puppet design constructs a wonderful world to play in with surprises that reveal themselves over time. Jaclyn Biskup's direction expands our horizons with one moment spent inside Xavi's video game and the next transported into the painting that hangs above her bed. Lullaby melodies mixed in with electronic game noises set an appropriate ambiance with music by Hyeyoung Kim and sound design by Tae Jong Park. Kay's soothing narration, Kirkland's energizing spirit and humor as Xavier, and Vega's spunky, earnest portrayal of Xavi work harmoniously to make a seamless performance.
While physically based in Manhattan, New Ohio Theatre's Theater of Young Minds production guides viewers on a promising, online adventure. Coming in at thirty-five minutes, their program also includes puppets and a map for even more adventures from home. With a team comprised of primarily Chicago and NYC based artists, the synergy of art being created across time zones and brought together by unforeseeable circumstances is exciting. It's particularly touching to see programming like this focused on younger audiences to provide solace and encouragement while living in this time of uncertainty. We could all use more of that right now.
Journey Around My Bedroom is available to watch on-demand until February 11 and recommended for ages 5+. Tickets are donation based, on a Pay-What-You-Will basis. While live performances are no longer streaming, it's still possible to play along in aiding Xavi on her quest. Happy exploring!