Thursday, April 03, 2008

According to Coyote - Seattle Children's Theatre

According to Coyote
Seattle Children’s Theatre
Tickets and Information
March 14 – May 11, 2008

Every culture has stories; how the world was formed, how humans came to be, why the vultures circle their prey before landing. Few, however, continue to tell the stories in the same way that they have for centuries. Few, that is, other than the Native Americans – especially here in the Pacific Northwest. This area is abundantly rich with Native American history and heritage. Even Seattle University has a bust of Chief Seattle on the Broadway side of their campus. So what of the stories? What of this history do we know as a community?

After According to Coyote, a whole lot more. John Kauffman’s play tells the stories of Coyote as seen through the eyes of the Plains and Plateau Indian tribes of the western United States. Coyote is the trickster but simultaneously the hero of these people. Much like Loki in Norse mythology or perhaps more appropriately, Prometheus from the Greek, Coyote gives great gifts to the human race but also finds himself in sticky situations quite frequently and has to trick his way out of them.

Gene Tagaban. Photo by Chris Bennion, 2008.

Kauffman’s writing flows effortlessly, especially through Gene Tagaban. This one-man show could easily become what so many one-man shows become: one-dimensional, flat and long. However, According to Coyote, clocking in at just under an hour, felt like I had just sat down when I left and I never once was away from the edge of my seat. The stories are beautiful and Tagaban presents them marvelously. His physical action is precise and magnificent and his ability to really make each new story a new story brings all of the stories to life.

One of the major factors in the vividness of the show, aside, of course, from Tagaban’s skill, were the costumes, props and lights (Lee Barnette Dombroski and Tim Wratten). The use of light and costume pieces added onto Tagaban throughout the stories create the world on the stage. Slowly, Tagaban is transformed from a man in jeans and a black shirt into Coyote and one can hardly track the transformation.

According to Coyote is a fantastic way to spend an hour of an afternoon with your kids or even alone. Yes, the show is specifically geared to children, but we could all use a little untainted fun in our lives.

Review by Nigel Andrews

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