Credit: Marc de Guerre
If someone invited you to a family-friendly shadow-puppet musical about two winged creatures on a quest to save the world, what would you say? If that musical is created by Christine Fellows and Shary Boyle, the correct answer is “Hell yes!”
Everything Under the Moon, the hotly anticipated new project by the Winnipeg-based musician and the Toronto-based visual artist, makes its world premiere this week. More than two years in the making, the show channels their distinctive style into a singular spectacle with the usual mix of irreverent humour, feminist politics and large papier-mâché heads.
“It’s like a female buddy movie for the whole family, along the lines of Thelma and Louise but without any sex or deadbeat dudes,” Boyle says. “We’re dealing with extinction, death, coming of age and accepting your inner freak. There will also be lasers, flames, smoke machines and chimpanzees riding bicycles.”
“It’s basically Lord of the Rings but way better,” Fellows adds. “We’d been talking about doing something really ambitious together for a long time. But figuring out how to squeeze in the time to devote to such a large undertaking was a huge challenge. When Harbourfront Centre offered us a shot, we decided to just let ‘er rip.”
Blending Boyle’s unique hand-animated projections and Fellows’ delicately arranged narrative songs, Everything Under the Moon tells the story of Limbertwig, a brown bat, and Idared, a honeybee, as they embark on a mission to save their respective species from extinction.
Though it’s a narrative couched in childlike simplicity, serious environmental issues are also on the table. Perhaps because of that, Fellows and Boyle wanted to make the work widely accessible; the future of our planet is everyone’s problem, after all.
Though widely distributed across North America, both brown bats and honeybees are in decline. Colony collapse disorder for honeybees and white-nose syndrome for bats (named for the fungus that develops on the muzzles and wings of afflicted animals) have been isolated as the causes. But biologists are scratching their heads for solutions. Both animals play essential roles in pollinating crops and, in the case of the bat, controlling insects that damage those same crops. If either were to become extinct the loss could devastate our food supply.
Though creative sparks flew between Fellows and Boyle when they met in Winnipeg at a women’s book club in 2003, it wasn’t until 2005 that they began collaborating formally.
While their last major project, 2011’s The Monkey and the Mermaid, sold out at the Images Festival and secured them a solid fan base among Toronto’s art set, they’re pulling out all the stops with the current work.
“The intensity of creating and performing the last show almost finished us,” Boyle says. “But this new one makes that look like a cakewalk from an Easy-Bake Oven. As creators we never do anything halfway. If this thing doesn’t tour it will become the Taj Mahal of experimental theatre, wailing its ghost-cry of lost love through the cultural graveyard of Toronto’s waterfront.”
Everything Under the Moon
Created by Shary Boyle and Christine Fellows
Presented by Harbourfront Centre’s Fresh Ground new works program, in association with The Power Plant
Sat, Feb 18-Thurs, Feb 23
231 Queen’s Quay W