"Castle Garden" performed at Gallery 263

"Castle Garden" performed at Gallery 263

Musical explores the quest for connection

  • Posted on: 11 November 2014
  • By: mholbrow

Photo above, l. to r.: Anne Hedonia (no, that's not a typo), Meg Di Maggio, Elana Friedland, Adam Baratz.

Last week-end brought an original musical production, Castle Garden, to Gallery 263 in Cambridgeport, where it had a three-performance run. The title is the name of a legendary city. The wandering musician named B (played by Adam Baratz) wants to find it because it was important to his family.

How is he going to get there? Well, he knows a song that contains some clues; he learned it from his father. He’s a hopeful chap, and maybe he'll meet somebody who can help him find the way. He strums his ukulele and sings as he goes.

It’s not a comfortable journey. Somebody (Meg Di Maggio) throws shoes at B and talks tough, but he keeps going. The next person he encounters (Elana Friedland) is unfriendly at first, but after awhile she gets out her flute and picks up on the tune. They find that they can trust each other, and that opens the way. Stage designer Anne Hedonia assists from the sidelines. It all happens in less than an hour.

Part of the show's charm is its immediacy–you could get hit by a flying shoe. Part of it is the universal nature of the story, which could represent a wandering minstrel from the Middle Ages, a busker in Harvard Square, or for that matter an auto mechanic or city council candidate--we all depend on luck whether we know it or not.

(Left: The troubadour Perdigon, 13th century, courtesy Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

The play is one of a kind. “We all wrote it together,” cast and crew agreed as they chatted with guests after the last show Sunday afternoon. Baratz is a software engineer, he said; Di Maggio and Friedland have some musical background and are heading in directions that include writing and the stage.

They played to a standing-room-only house, which in this setting means audience members in all 16 chairs and another half-dozen standing or perched in the window seat. The production was in the round, with a central pillar of found objects representing places on the journey.

Gallery 263 is a small non-profit establishment at the corner of Pearl Street and Putnam Avenue. It hosts a variety of events including art shows, small musical and drama productions, a yoga program, films, and lectures.