- Oliver Paul
Pan Pan Theatre's The Crumb Trail is a neurotic little piece of theater that finds sources of anxiety everywhere: in fairy tales, in food, and especially in the internet. Pan Pan takes Hansel and Gretel as its starting point, a cautionary tale about two children whose parents abandon them in the woods. The metaphorical woods of The Crumb Trail is the internet, its dangers made explicit here: Sex is everywhere, and not the sexy kind. There's no gingerbread house, but internet memes—the Star Wars kid flails, the cast of Peanuts singing "Hey Ya"—serve the same function, action as distracting, candy-coated enticements.
At the beginning of the show, the actors introduce themselves and explain what roles they'll be playing. "When I'm Gretel, I have built-in GPS," announces actress Aoife Duffin; Hansel, played by Bush Moukarzel, is quick to call bullshit. The aptly titled production picks its way over a terrain that splices fairy tales and YouTube videos, that explores creepy subtexts without ever losing its sense of humor. Most surprising of all, in fact, is how funny the show really is: just funny enough to make a cryptic modern day parable about the internet era completely palatable. In other words, this ensemble knows exactly what it's doing. Multiple laptops and projectors are integrated with deft use of shadow and sound; there's even a fuzzed out pop song about the limits of maternal love.
I'm reluctant to say too much about this show—much of the fun, as one of the actors points out, is heading into the darkness, not quite knowing what's going to happen. I will say, though, that of what I've seen so far at TBA, it's my favorite.
The Crumb Trail runs tonight through Saturday, 6:30 pm, details here.