Written by playwright Thomas Morgan Jones, The Forest In My Room is described as a story about communication, solving problems, not being afraid, dealing with family illness and facing life’s challenges with courage.
Eight year old Ruby (Amy Keating) lives with her mother in a new city where her mom has taken a new job. She notices Mamma (Alexis Koetting) becoming ill but Mamma keeps everything hidden from Ruby. Ruby’s new school-friend, Ella (Amelia Sargisson), helps her come up with some pretty interesting ideas to help Mamma get better yet their plans do not quite turn out the way they intended.
Written for children nine and up, this story explores nothing less than a ‘canvas’ of emotions. Happiness, laughter, sadness, intrigue, mystery. I laughed out loud and wiped tears from my eyes hoping no one would notice the blogger crying in the second row from the back.
In an article by NiagaraThisWeek Director Pablo Felices-Luna explains:
“The play is about how do we have the really difficult conversations with the people we love — especially children,” he said. “It’s that balance between should Mamma tell Ruby, or should she keep it to herself so she doesn’t worry her daughter, or avoid a misunderstanding.” ~ Pablo Felices-Luna
Jones demonstrates an awesome fluidity in the writing and Sarah Miller, Stage Manager, great fluidity on stage. Ruby, while playing her part is simultaneously narrating, for the audience, the events of the play. I found this perspective to be refreshing and enlightening; it was noticeable yet easy to get used to.
The set is impressive; it is simplistic in its few mobile pieces yet complex in that it uses projections to create The Forest environment that brings the play to life. The projection equipment was brought about by a grant recently received through the Trillium Foundation. And, it was an honour to attend the performance with a Trillium Foundation volunteer and St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley, current Minister of the Environment. The plaque was received, on behalf of all the people of Carousel Players by Director Pablo Felices-Luna and is currently displayed in their Mahoney Courthouse Theatre in downtown St. Catharines.
My #1 favourite part of the show – though there were many – was after the performance ended during the question and answer period. A young girl sitting to my right with her family asked Ruby (Keating – 25 years) and Ella (Sargisson – 27 years) if either of them were really eight years old, “because I think you’re both really twelve!”
Well, that certainly had all adults in the crowd cracking a smile if not laughing out loud. Keating explained that she is actually 25 and Sargisson welcomed the though of being 12 though her 28th birthday is fast approaching. And then, to everyone’s delight, Koetting (Mamma) chirped in, “I’m older than both of them”. And, like that, the show was over. What a great moment to end on.
The Forest In My Room started touring schools on March 25, 2013 and will continue traveling through April.