At the Silver Lake Children’s Theatre Group, a young playwright and talented ensemble offer an inspired time travel fable in “The Magically Marvelous Traveling Circus Train.”
By John Lavitt
Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 12/16/2022 – When a friend insisted that I join her at the Assistance League Theatre in Hollywood to see a performance of the Silver Lake Children’s Theatre Group, I was not thrilled at the prospect. Although the theatre group run by Artistic Director Broderick Miller has a very positive reputation, it is still children’s theatre. Why bother to go if you do not have a relative on stage performing in the play? Given the bevy of theatrical offerings in Los Angeles County, who has time to go back to school, applauding a good effort?
Of course, as I tend to be proven wrong, this critic is forced to eat his words. The final play in the theatrical cycle turned out to be an impassioned and insightful take on the classic time travel tale. Written by a sixteen-year-old with the poetic name of Paloma Pascoe, “The Magically Marvelous Traveling Circus Train” is funny and fast-paced while also delving into some of the most difficult issues of our day. The true revelation of the play is how it manipulates the time travel genre to offer a new look.
In the play’s opening, August (a capable Nora Greenfield) time travels a hundred years from 2022 to 1922. Waking up on a train carrying “Mr. McCoy’s Magical Traveling Circus” to their next performance, August struggles with the fact that time travel screws around with a person’s memory. Only shards of memory return, and even her identity is fractured initially. Landing in the middle of a circus train filled with charismatic and flamboyant performers does not help her cause. She haplessly becomes part of the show to survive and figure out her greater mission.
The return of August’s memory is the onset of Paloma Pascoe’s true time travel innovation. Although August comes from 2022, she does not come from our version of 2022. Instead, in her world, humanity is on the edge of extinction as out-of-control wildfires ravage the earth. Time travel is invented in a last desperate attempt to save the world. If the past can be changed and mistakes made right, the future may be saved, and environmental disasters averted. The hope of the play is that our present-day can be brought back.
At the heart of this concept is the notion that if we do not change our behaviors toward the environment today, in one hundred years, we might find ourselves in the same predicament. Well-directed by Sofie Wilson and well-acted by a talented ensemble cast, Paloma Pascoe’s play feels lighthearted and pleasant on stage. Lurking behind the fun, however, there is a stark message that cannot be ignored. If humanity is to be saved, we must change how we treat the world, not tomorrow, but today. With a youthful passion and an undeniable idealism, the playwright sounds a clarion call.
Pictures Courtesy of the Silver Lake Children’s Theatre Group