A whimsical journey laced with political undertones.
At the close of the first episode of The Golden Toad I felt like I was inside a Wes Anderson movie. Did the creators get inspiration from Wes? Given that Talking Band has been around for 40 years, the opposite is more likely the case.
The Golden Toad is a whimsical journey laced with political undertones written by Paul Zimmet and Ellen Maddow, two of the founding members of Talking Band. The performance is split between four episodes performed in different locations throughout the theater. At the end of each episode the audience moved as a group to a new setting. Especially at the start of the play, and certainly throughout, Ellen and fellow founding member Tina Shepard — incredibly solid and captivating performers — set the pace and tone for the audience. The rest of the company followed their lead with their own personal twist. Standouts were Helen Gutowski with her verbal acuity and physicality range and James Tigger! Furguson with his emotional depth and presence. The company as a whole had a physical lightness that was engrossing. I’d love to tell you more about the choreography in the specific settings, but I’m afraid I’d spoil it for you, as the movement was so much a part of the charm of this piece.
Several times throughout the play I looked around at the audience — everyone was having a great time. The Golden Toad simply made you feel good. Like most experimental theater there are non-traditional twists and turns that can sometimes lose you, but with The Golden Toad, you never emotionally dropped out of the piece. It is a playful, off-beat evening of theater that’s not to be missed.