If I could review the entire experience of seeing Between the Worlds in one word, it would be “beautiful” and if I could do it in only two words, they would be “exceptionally beautiful”.
However, I feel that even those two words are insufficient. Through song, dance, puppets, storytelling, music, and movement, the show celebrates the winter solstice and the cycle of light and dark that weaves through all lives. If it sounds pagan to you, well, you’re not wrong, but it isn’t religious, per se, although it feels very spiritual in a global way. Indeed, the “song cycle” that makes up the 75-minute show includes songs of Norwegian, Russian, Croatian, Ojibwe, and Jewish origins, among others.
The stage is graced by young women, crones, owls, songbirds, bats, wolves, and the moon and stars as the audience is taken on a journey through the longest nights of the year to the birth of the returning light. The music moves from uplifting to haunting to jaunty to mournful to hopeful, all of it well-performed and beautiful. When it was first performed in 2013, Between the Worlds earned an Ivey Award in design for In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, and rightfully so; the sheer variety of movement and dance creates so much rich visual imagery that not only will you never be bored, you’ll also probably not even be able to catch it all.
At the very beginning of the show, as a group of white-clad women of all ages and backgrounds and sizes milled about the stage, they began to sing, which startled a baby in the front row of the audience into tears. As the babe’s father (I assume) moved to leave his seat to take the noisy child out away from the audience, two of the women on stage reached out to him, saying, “No, no, don’t leave, it’s okay!” which really set the mood for the evening; this is a show for everybody, and it feels less like a performance and more like a community experience.
With the newspaper headlines full of death, violence, hate, and fear, Between the Worlds is a breath of fresh air. Fresh, piney air on a cool, crisp night. As I left the theatre, I felt so much better about the whole world. The message of acceptance of the cycle of life, its beauty, its hope, are just wonderful, I honestly think everyone should see this — yes, everyone.
Between the Worlds by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre runs December 11-21, 2015 at 1500 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN. Tickets $20 (individual and group discounts available) by calling 612-721-2535 or at www.hobt.org