In “Walking the Tightrope,” the play now performing at 24th Street Theatre, a grandfather finds himself in a situation where he must be very cautious, just as if he was walking a tightrope. His granddaughter Esme has arrived for her annual visit, unaware that her grandma, Nanna Queenie, has passed away. Esme searches insistently about the house for her Nanna, while her grandfather frets about what to tell her. Eventually, he tells the child that her grandma went off to join the circus.
“Walking the Tightrope” was written by British playwright Mike Kenny as a 28 page poem. It was up to the artistic directors at 24th Street, by means of their new experimental resident theater company, Lab24, to turn it into a play. The goal of Lab24 is to create sophisticated theater for people of all ages, or, in their words, “adult theatre for kids.” This is no children’s theater consisting of primary colors and geometrical forms. This is material meant to make people, including youngsters, think about important issues.
The play at 24th Street incorporates, besides Esme and her grandfather, a character not found in the original poem – a clown who sees everything but is not seen by the other characters (played by Mexican artist Tony Duran), who represents the loving and guarding spirit of Nanna. It also counts with music originally composed and played live on piano by Michael Redfield.
Children understand that a grown woman (Paige Lindsey White) is portraying a child, they like the music, and the colorful projections on the stage. On the other hand, adults understand the soberness of the subject, the loss that the grandfather has suffered, and his desire to protect his granddaughter, and himself, from the pain of his wife’s death.
“Walking the Tightrope” is a thought provoking play, at times heart-tugging for the adult audience. It is the first full effort by Lab24 towards its goal to produce intelligent and worthwhile theater for the whole family, the type that gives credit to your children’s thinking capacity and that will turn them into theater-goers and supporters of the arts.
Walking the Tightrope
24th Street Theatre
1117 West 24th Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Saturdays at 2 p.m. – Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23; Mar. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. – Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23; Mar. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Tickets: $15 adults / $10 under 16 / $12 seniors, students and teachers / 24 cents for North University Park residents
Parking: Secure lot on the southwest corner of 24th and Hoover for $5