The Flying Trunk | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Flying Trunk


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


THE FLYING TRUNK, Griffin Theatre Company. In this perky, innocuous adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story, a boy named Tom finds love thanks to three goofy genies. But unlike most fairy tales, which have a relentless logic despite magical characters and unusual destinies, this story makes sense only loosely. When Tom meets the genies, they all travel on a joyride to Turkey, where a story unrelated to earlier events ends in Tom's near decapitation and eventual happy marriage to a wealthy princess.

The usual participatory shtick is part of this Griffin Theatre staging. Children have a chance to give the characters advice, help their magic spells along, and hiss the bad guy. The flying-trunk special effect is charming, and the actors perform with wide-eyed enthusiasm. But they all seemed to be expecting certain reactions from the audience, responding unimaginatively when they didn't get them. To be fair, the small audience must have been a challenge to a cast trained to whip big groups of children into shouts and laughter. But I was disappointed by the actors' awkward pauses.

When a genie announces the moral, we know it's the end of this short, cheerful production, which will certainly do children no harm. But the announcement reflects a pedantic edge that takes some of the fun out of a goofy patchwork of storytelling.

--Carol Burbank

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →