Theater review: SCT's Morgan's Journey

Morgan’s Journey, currently running at Seattle Children’s Theatre, is, literally, a journey that begins with the birth of “an old clown” onstage and ends with, well, a journey offstage. Without ever stating it, Robert Morgan has taken the adage “Life is a journey, not a destination” and made it visible.

On a spare set, Morgan applies and inspires imagination in the process of early self-discovery and, then, awareness of others—including the audience, of whom Morgan asks direction and opinion. In fact, the audience is a huge element of the show, offering shouted advice and direction (solicited and not),  in unison and singly as Morgan discovers friendship and readies himself for a journey.

With the audience’s help, Morgan explores his physical body, learns about his environment, celebrates his birthday and opens presents, finds a friend, and in the end, finds himself—and everything he needs to depart (at the end of the show) on his journey.

Morgan is a clown—and an accomplished one. His journey of self-discovery  is aided by slapstick and sleight-of-hand and some deft juggling of semantics and semiotics that sent audience members into fits of giggles.

Throughout the show, Morgan uses iconic props that are perfect for the 5-to-8-year-old set (SCT’s age recommendation), but there is something for everyone. What Morgan’s birthday gifts hold or reveal— hearts, friends, sharing, music—are recognozable to kids but older audience members know they are true gifts—and what one needs for the journey.

After the show, I experienced something rare, even for SCT: one could feel the the warmth that Morgan’s Journey inspired. Families and friends in the theatre seemed happy to be with each other on their own journeys. It was a remarkable effect—and not entirely theatrical.

Christine Johnson-Duell is a poet and writes frequently about the arts for Parent Map.

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