Amitai Marmorstein and Celine Stubel in Legoland.
By Jacob Richmond
Directed by Jacob Richmond and Britt Small
Starring Celine Stubel and Amitai Marmorstein
Runs November 18 – December 6 @ Theatre Passe Muraille
By Jessie Davis
When political and social commentary can be made through the exploration of popular music, the results are strikingly impressive. When the commentary is made by puppeteering, interpretive dancing, gangsta rapping tweens, it’s more than impressive — it’s Legoland.
In just one act, the Lamb siblings (played by Celine Stubel and Amitai Marmorstein) take the audience along for the ride as they metamorphose from happy, home-schooled children living peacefully on a Saskatchewan hippie commune into pill-pushing, boarding-school brats who bus it to Orlando, Florida while strung out on Happy Meals TM.
Throughout the play, Penny and Ezra Lamb share unique societal observations as only children can, using dolls, action figures, and kitchen utensils to explore the superficial nature of the outside world they call “Legoland.” Expecting the towns and people from their research — Penny had read Anne of Green Gables in preparation for their trip to the outside — the Lambs are instead faced with the plasticity and vulgarity of the modern world.
Adapting to an unwelcoming environment can be a shock to the system, and imagining the hostility of the current socio-political climate is enough to make even the most strong-hearted individuals weak in the knees. Imagine then, being kept from all of this, sheltered and nurtured all of your life and then being thrust into the real world at the worst possible time: the teen years. Penny and Ezra just can’t seem to adjust; their peers label them freaks (and in Penny’s case, the class “feminazi” lesbian). Their teachers suggest psychiatric help. The psychiatrists prescribe cocktails of pills.
The only thing that keeps Penny going is her love for Johnny Moon, one-fifth of the boy band 7-Up. Her discovery and description of music as universal comforter brings you back to the moment in your formative years when that one song changed your life and made everything make sense, when you could feel the ache of every other human soul who’d ever felt the same way, the commonality of rhythm, melody and lyric.
When the band splits up and Johnny releases a gangsta rap album as “JK-47,” Penny sets off to find him, Ezra in tow, to tell him he’s making a huge mistake. Selling their prescription meds to fuel their trip, the siblings travel by Greyhound from Saskatchewan to Florida, singing and dancing their way through the story of each stop on the route and the toy inside each McMeal along the way. Fry Guy on a fire truck amuses Ezra to no end. In Texas, however, he is mystified by his junior NRA membership.
After the laughably disturbing meeting of the Lambs and JK-47, Penny explains the intensity of her passion: “love is the closest we can ever get to someone else. It’s the closest we can ever get to being someone else.” The nature of love is multi-faceted, each shimmering corner sending blinding rays in every direction. Lovers, friends, siblings: no two people will ever love each other in exactly the same way. Penny and Ezra demonstrate this multitude of possibilities for human connection so well because of their inability to connect with others in the outside world. They must be each other’s confidant, rule-maker, nurturer, cheerleader, and voice of reason; they stand behind one another no matter what.
In all its dark humour, Legoland manages to reveal society for the surreal house of mirrors it is, and expose the absurdity of what is considered normal — all in a sing-song, vaudevillian style that bewilders and thoroughly entertains right until the very end.