Annelih GH Hamilton in "The Lamp Is the Moon." Credit: Elise Bakketun
Confession: I hate bedtime.
Putting my kids to bed is enough to do me in for the evening. Usually I coax my husband into corralling our boisterous brood to bed because by that point in the day (after school pick-ups, enrichment activities, homework, dinner and bathtime) my sentiments about bedtime fall somewhere between "good night and good luck" and "I. Am. Done." I know I’m not alone. In fact, a few years ago, when a video of the satirical children’s book “Go the F*ck to Sleep” narrated by Samuel L. Jackson was released, it went viral within hours. Parents everywhere could relate because the struggle is real.
By naptime each day small children are equal parts exhausting and exhausted, and yet... why won’t they sleep? “The Lamp is the Moon,” the one-hour, one-woman show now playing at Seattle Children’s Theatre, sets out to answer that question. The story follows Shawn, a bright and rambunctious preschooler — who can’t quite seem to fall asleep during naptime — and her cast of imagined characters, chief among them an old lamp she’s been given by her grandmother.
The bottom line
I loved the show and so did my kids. It’s fresh, it’s funny, it’s original and ultimately, it’s inspiring. The set is minimal by design — it’s a larger-than-life child’s bedroom — and there’s only one actor, Annelih GH Hamilton, who plays Shawn. The script relies heavily on Shawn’s imagination (and therefore the audience’s) to get most points across. Shawn scribbles feverishly on a notepad, dresses in makeshift costumes assembled from clothing in her drawers and holds imaginary conversations with many of the items in her room (her door, her table, her toys.) Much of the action throughout the play revolves around a conversation between Shawn and her lamp, which she personifies by speaking back to herself in a different voice.
If you’d told me any of this beforehand, I’m not sure I'd have wanted to see the play. I find shows with just one actor and no set changes to be, well, boring. It’s hard to make a theatrical performance engaging enough to hold the attention of most adults for an hour and a half, let alone the attention of children but Hamilton delivers.
Her portrayal of a precocious preschooler manages to be both heartwarming and hilarious. My kids (ages 5 and 7) were thoroughly enthralled for the entire show and so was I. That’s rare for me during a children’s performance of any kind, especially one with such minimal cast and set. I found the show well crafted and Hamilton’s performance magical.
Another thing I loved? While totally entertaining, the show is also instructive. The script manages to work in a few science and history lessons throughout and affirms the importance of women of color in art and science (a huge win for me personally because I had my 7-year-old aspiring scientist daughter with me).
Plus, the show’s teachable moments aren’t just for kids. Adults will learn some important lessons, too. I, for one, learned that maybe I need to be a little more patient at bedtime. Shawn’s journey in "The Lamp is the Moon” drives home an important point, one I’d do well to remember about my own kids: Even when they’re not sleeping, they’re dreaming. And that’s just as it should be.
If you go…
When: "The Lamp is the Moon" plays multiple times per week through May 20.
Cost: Ticket prices range from $22–$39 (depending on day of performance). Buy online. Rush tickets, if seats remain, are available for $18 one hour before showtime.
Age recommendation: SCT recommends the show for ages 3 and older.
Run time: One hour with no intermission.
Accessible performances: SCT presents sensory-friendly, ASL-interpreted and audio-described performances for each show. Find information and dates online.
Getting there: Try street parking or one of the surface lots in the neighborhood, or take transit to Seattle Center.
Nearby fun: Check out ParentMap’s guide to Seattle Center and check out fun stuff such as the International Fountain and the Artists at Play playground on the east side of the Armory.