Queen, a full length puppet play currently playing at Heart of the Beast Theater, is a treat for the eyes and the ears. It seemed like a greek myth, complete with chorus, narrator and a tragic hero for the modern day, a grandmother. As the program reads, "the emotional heart of the piece is fired by compassion for the death of so many young African Americans at the hand of civil power." The grandmother at the center of our story is searching for her grandson who was recently killed, or one could say searching for a way out of her grief. In this process, she goes on a grand journey, encountering many fantastical people and creatures. Each character is created in a visually stunning way by the artists at the Heart of the Beast theater, and given life by the four puppeteers on stage. These creatures ranged from a dog, to a bear, to a luminous fish. Each time a new creation came on stage I found myself listening to the words less and marveling in the details and creativity behind each newly introduced character.
The Puppeteers of Queen at Heart of the Beast. Photo by Bruce Silcox.
The story was told through the voices of the characters spoken by the puppeteers, the narrator, and the chorus. The chorus was beautiful, their voices harmonized wonderfully, and their songs nicely summarized the feelings or themes being conveyed at a particular time. If there was a soundtrack for this show, I would buy it. The narration, like in greek myths, seemed to be in the form of a poem. I wished that I could have a copy of the play to read and go over for weeks. Because I feel like that is how much time you need to truly understand all the meaning that is packed in. But in the 80 minutes I had in the Heart Of The Beast Theater with this tale I did feel as though I was floating on top of the story while it was being told to me, carried along by all the artists involved. It was truly a unique experience to see a show whose story telling methods seemed so ancient with a message and protagonist that is so timely.
If you are a fan of the work of Homer, or want to see a different view on the killings of so many black men that have been in the news lately, then I recommend you go see Queen at Heart of the Beast Theater.
I will end with an exert from the play that is printed in the program:
"May my anger remain real
and smaller than my love."
Thank you to Heart of the Beast Theater for inviting me to this production.