Review of “Piano on the Moon”, a production of Theatre “Atelier 313”

The center of the puppet theater is moving to Krasna Polyana
Mihail Tazev
Production team
Script and direction Petar Pashov
Scenography Dimitar Dimitrov
Musical arrangement: Petar Pashov
Participants: Daniel Kukushev, Elin Stoyanova, Yordan Tinkov, Venceslav Dimitrov, Pavel Gromkov, Daniel Dobrev.

Based on Valeri Petrov’s motives

“Piano on the Moon” is a story about non-events in which there is no universal lesson. A story about a boy and his ability to travel through time. Petar Pashov Jr. as a director creates the world of little Rosen. Vast, provocative, interesting, at times as sad as the world we live in, it confronts the boy with many questions that even the audience finds it difficult to find the answers to.

The performance is a collection of individual excerpts-studies based on motives by Valeri Petrov, and the talented work is of the young artists, class of 2020, from the class of Prof. Zheni Pashova. The text differs from established practice in puppetry. It is suitable for young and old, but fortunately it does not fall into the rut of the well-known fairy tale, story, incident, etc. It is a collaboration between improvisations, poems, a well-constructed satirical-comedic line and at the same time really important issues and themes of a child’s life. The story is emotional and is strongly woven and expressed in the acting and stage space.

The stage of Atelier 313 is like Jan Bibian’s fairy-tale engine – a steam locomotive of the game for children and adults. The whole space talks to the audience. The depth of the stage is an illusion created by numerous ropes hanging from the ceiling, and at the bottom of it is positioned the antique piano – the key to one human breath. At the upper ends are the gears of the machine, which are set in motion as the story begins. The position of the audience is the only place that is inaccessible to the actors. All around the audience, the players are in their own territory, thus increasing the feeling of empathy, empathy with what is happening, because the stage itself is the method by which Pashov Jr. allows this time travel. It is very much like the confused consciousness of little Rosen – ordered in its messiness.

The complexity of the text and the saturated space create the difficult task of the acting team playing on several levels like a well-organized beehive. Their actions on stage are a storm of emotions expressed through movements, voice play, expression of strong characters and well-known images from reality. At any moment, the scene can acquire a different arrangement and expressiveness, which is achieved by energetic and instantaneous shifting, resembling the film footage of the living staircase from the Harry Potter strip. The actors switch their moods in unison with the energy – they go from unrelenting boisterous joy to melancholy, even sadness, and this is expressed through their stage presence. In Rosen’s dream, we travel through Europe, miss events from the past, have fun with concerts, with circus troupes, for a moment it seems as if we are in the square and observe the theater of the hat, and finally we return again to the dark room with the telephone and the piano. Performance is an unpredictable stormy sea in which improvisation is the strongest pleasure of the entire journey. The symbiosis between the space and the play of the actors create a magical puppetry in which situations, objects and even the keys of the dead piano speak.

The story of this piano on the moon is emotional dynamite whose fuse has no end. The several delayed endings tear the narrative apart at times, but it nevertheless maintains its integrity. The performance is an example of how puppet theater can work and how puppet theater texts are not limited to the titles of well-known children’s stories that I can count on both hands. The play of the young actors is distinguished by the fact that we have not seen such dedication to the performance process on the Sofia puppet stage for a long time.

“Piano on the Moon” is an attraction magnet that can turn the stage of the Atelier 313 theater into a place and center for young puppeteers. Rosen’s story could be a dream come true that takes not only the audience in the salon, but also the modern puppet theater in a new, different direction, from which we can only expect the best.

Translation is Funded by National Culture Fund.