While watching Lindsey Greer Sikes' Marvelous Things at the Blue Theatre last week, I was struck by the feeling that rather than see this gentle fantasy, I'd really prefer to be in it. That's not unusual for those who haunt the dusty glitter of Austin stages; we've had a connection to theatre art at some time in the past so immediate and powerful that we've become performance junkies.
Rachel Wiese in the principal role of "Girl" and the rest of the cast had the delicate, concentrated gazes of make believe. Characters are unnamed and emblematic; the story is an abstraction into a coloring-book version of childhood's surrender to adolescence. The Girl has an abashed aspiring beau (Nathan Brockett) who accepts the limits she desires, physical and fantastical; she has a confidante, the "Other Girl" (Sara Harless), who's brash, gutsy and sensual; and there's the "Other Boy" (Stephen Mercantel), hormone-driven but well meaning, even so. The Old Folks her parents are cranky and broken down by life.
And then there are the Girl's imaginary friends. They perch in the upper reaches of the theatre on either wide of the playing area, back by the cellists who thrum, bow and accent the simple growing-up stories acted out at center. During the first act you might initially mistake the six 'mechanicals' for spectators particularly captivated by the action, but then they insinuate themselves with comments, contained gestures, grimaces and vocalized melodies. In the second half they emerge to surround the Girl, to assert their identities as Harvey, Faye Bell, Pinky, Betty, Adelaide and Goodie. They're pure Id, moving, quarreling amongst themselves and badgering the Girl as if they were five-year-olds.