photo by Michael Leslie
Walk Two Moons – Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA
November 4, 2019
Review submitted by Molly Levine of Upper Merion Area High School
“Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” This Native American proverb of empathy and growth reflects the powerful production of Walk Two Moons performed by Episcopal Academy.
Based off of Sharon Creech’s Newberry winning novel, Walk Two Moons tells the story of a young girl on a cross-country road trip with her grandparents as she recounts her exploits with her eccentric friend, Phoebe Winterbottom, while reflecting on life in Kentucky with her parents. Sal learns valuable lessons of life, love, and family in this emotional yet heart-warming tale.
Episcopal Academy’s production expertly handled the difficulty of the ever-changing settings throughout the show with fluid scene changes, a dynamic set, and the dedication of the actors to their complex roles. All characters, Sal (Katie Locke) in particular, were able to portray scenes of deep sadness with maturity and gravity, while also establishing light-hearted moments throughout.
Sal (Katie Locke) demonstrated the joys and the pains of growing up in her loving yet tragic family. Locke’s ability to play the silly, uplifting moments of her innocent character and immediately transition to devastating realizations about her family was incredibly impressive. Grace Frazier skillfully performed the whimsical role of Phoebe with an adventurous attitude that quickly grew paranoid once her world fell apart. The relationship between Sal and Phoebe was enjoyable to watch as the two shared great chemistry as Sal’s uncertainty and thoughtfulness balanced out Phoebe’s outlandish ideas.
Arnav Shiva was a standout performer as he portrayed his role of Gramps with an impeccable Southern accent and well-timed one-liners, while being able to highlight the pain his character endures in an unforgettable monologue. Mrs. Partridge (Madison Belo) had her own hilarious moments with her spot-on comedic timing. Belo also sang beautifully during transitions with Adam Mauch on the guitar, creating smooth transitions between the different scenes. The ensemble served many roles in this production, as travelers, students, and even trees. The cast handled these varied roles with great energy and characterization on stage.
The EA Tech Crew designed and built a minimalistic yet highly detailed set. With a tree for Sal to climb, a car that could move around the stage, and the glowing moon in the background, this fully functioning set brought this story to life. Lighting by Laura Patterson created intimate moments with Sal as she processed her mother’s disappearance.
Episcopal Academy told the story of Walk Two Moons with a deep understanding of love and loss, evoking empathy from the audience. The cast and crew illustrated the importance of journeys, teaching us that “you can’t cage a person,” but they will always be with you.
Review submitted by Kristiana Filipov of Harriton High School
Have you ever heard a singing tree? Or plucked blackberries from verdant foliage, careful to save some at the bottom and top of the bush for the mice and the birds? Well, Salamanca Tree Hiddle, the protagonist in Episcopal Academy’s recent production of Walk Two Moons, certainly has.
Based on Sharon Creech’s novel of the same name, Walk Two Moons follows the pre-pubescent Salamanca, referred to as Sal, on the road trip she takes from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents to visit her mother, who has mysteriously disappeared. Along the way, she relays the tale of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom, whose mother also disappeared, and whose conviction that her neighbor is a kidnapping murderer is unshakeable. What follows is a heart-warming, bittersweet journey that allows Sal to come to terms with losing her mother.
The cast as a whole was vivacious and diverse, with unique characterization in even the ensemble, which grounded the shifting nature of the narrative as the plot switches between Sal’s journey and Phoebe’s story, and allowed the flow of the play to lead the audience down different paths without confusing them. Despite the somber nature of the second act, the ensemble and entire cast maintained genuine and impressive energy.
Central to the play, however, was Katie Locke’s heartfelt performance of Sal, whose mannerisms and expressions revealed an earnest character. Present onstage for the majority of the show, Locke’s emotive force never faltered, and built to a poignant climax in the second act. Additionally, her characterization contrasted nicely with the vivacious Grace Frazier, whose body language and inflection conveyed her character’s paranoia.
Throughout the show, various supporting actors supplemented Locke and Frazier’s performances. Notably, Arnav Shiva and Madison Belo as Gramps and Mrs. Partridge brought levity to an otherwise emotionally heavy play, and used accents to enhance their characterization. Belo and Adam Mauch also expertly wove haunting music throughout the play, which grounded the narrative and fit its mood. Finally, the ensemble, marching on and off stage frequently, was vibrant without being distracting and versatile in switching between their various roles.
Despite the engaging performances of the actors, Walk Two Moons would be incomplete without Laura Patterson’s impeccable lighting and Anjali Bose’s creative stage management. Set changes rarely interrupted the flow of the play, occurring in the background of most scenes. Most of all, Patterson’s lighting took the show from good to great, enhancing the narrative and making it clear at all times. The lighting mimicked the mood of most scenes, while remaining simple with little variation beyond blue and amber.
With high energy, heartfelt performances, and skillfully-executed tech, Episcopal Academy’s Walk Two Moons was poignant, refreshing, and delightful, like a freshly-plucked blackberry from the human-height section of a bush.