Physical theatre is not this reviewer's forte. She’s a word girl. But every now and then it’s nice to watch an audience of all ages connect on a visceral level, laughing at a sweet little story. Such is the case with Pierrot and the Moon, a tiny jewel-box of a theatrical experience. The story barely fills out 40 minutes, and can be boiled down to “boy loses necklace, boy gets back necklace.” It’s a classic Commedia scenario, with hapless innocent Pierrot being thrown out of his Paris hotel, robbed, chased by a policeman while suffering several misunderstandings (partially because Pierrot speaks Italian, not French), encountering a damsel in distress, and being helped by a friendly and expressive rat puppet. Though all of the physical comedy is crisp and clearly rehearsed to function like clockwork, the highlight of the show is the little rat; the winning, detailed puppet is finely crafted so that it really appears to be able to run around, and it wins over the audience with its clear desire to make a friend in Pierrot, helping him create chaos from its main location, the garbage can. I almost wanted an entire show solely about the rat, which really did seem to be the one in charge, pulling the strings to make events happen.
Also impressive in the puppet department are a slightly disturbing, traditional moon mask, and the shadow puppet scenes over a beautiful sketched backdrop of Paris. The shadow puppets float and run across the scene, and, in an inventive addition, manage to gain whatever accessories or positions the main players have when they, in chase scenes, run behind the screen to be replaced by puppet versions of themselves, and then back out again.
The play almost entirely relies on the charmingly naïve excitement and physicality of Pierrot, contrasted with the comedy of the authoritarian but bumbling policeman. This makes for classic but not played-out conflict; there’s a reason it’s a traditional trope, because it’s funny. The wailing, jilted bride is given less to do, but does it well. (Forgive the lack of actor names; I did not get a program and cannot find a specific credit list online, and don’t want to put the wrong names to the characters.) Everything is played, as fits Commedia, very broadly, and language is practically unnecessary, all being spoken in very simple French or Italian. The children in the audience seemed to really enjoy it, talking back to the characters. There’s nothing particularly analytical to say about the show; it’s just a sweet little uncomplicated play with a nice soul.