Neil Gaiman's Enchantingly Disorienting 'Coraline'
Neil Gaiman’s story of a young girl trapped between worlds comes to life on an intimate stage as Bad Example Productions presents i. Madeline McNichols plays a British girl exploring a strange world in the last few days before the start of a new school year. Curious about a locked door in the drawing room of her house, Coraline unlocks it to find a world very much like her own—complete with her Other Mother and Other Father—who have creepy button eyes and a desire to keep her forever.
Donna Kummer competently directs the melodic disorientation of the music, which delivers a very bizarre world to the stage amid strange characters populating stranger scenes. Though there is minimal costuming, scenery and lighting, the cast brings together an impressively otherworldly feeling. Director David Kaye has done a good job of harnessing the cast into a dizzying energy. Kendall Yorkey is a broadly smiling menace as the psychotically villainous Other Mother. Tess Masias and Zachary Dean are pleasantly odd as a pair of retired actresses on both sides of the door. Josh Perkins is comically exasperating as a neighbor who trains mice upstairs from Coraline. Rob Schreiner plays dual roles as realistic house cat on one side of the door and casually anthropomorphized feline on the other side.
The anarchic energy of the production is so compelling that it threatens to plunge the whole production into the all-out combustion of an unpleasant theatrical noise. McNichols is so charmingly heroic in the lead role that it never falls apart or explodes into abstraction. Her sharp Coraline wit brings it all together quite beautifully.
Through Aug. 13 at the Tenth Street Theatre, 628 N. 10th St. For tickets, visit coralinemusical.brownpapertickets.com.