Children’s Theatre Company’s latest production, “Seedfolks” is based on the book by Paul Fleishchman, in which 13 narrators tell the story of the first year of a community garden in an immigrant neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio.
In CTC’s production, all 13 characters are portrayed by local talent Sonja Parks. Critics found the performance a great example of her “ample stage gifts.”
On the surface, it’s about a trash-covered urban lot in a troubled neighborhood that’s gradually transformed into a community garden. On a deeper level, it’s really about the transformation of the people who do the digging, planting and upkeep. We meet 14 distinct and very interesting people, each with a story to tell about where he or she came from and how this garden brought about change.
We see all of this vividly because of Parks’ theatrical gifts, which are on display throughout the show. The actor plays 11 major characters, using accents, gestures and attitude to distinguish her finely drawn characters. You see the walk of the Jewish man, the gentle determination of the Korean girl, the seen-it-all ennui of a white janitor. Parks is not delivering caricatures by any stretch. She portrays her characters in “Seedfolks” with understanding even as the show offers evidence of her ample stage gifts.
All these characters are played by the luminous and uber-talented Sonja Parks. Parks does yeoperson work in Seedfolks, switching from character to character with grasshopper-like speed and astonishing ingenuity. She deftly sketches in each one (and she gets, no doubt, much help from able director Peter Brosius) and gives each a defining physicality. Parks, lean and lithe, athletically takes and holds the stage. For an hour and fifteen minutes, everyone in the CTC’s Cargill theater was in her sway.
“Seedfolks” runs through November 16. Have you seen it? What’s your review?