Children’s entertainment often seeks, but rarely succeeds, to achieve the ideal of being worthwhile for people of all ages.
But the Yale Children’s Theater production of “Mystery at Captain’s Cove” had the audience in stitches, and there was not a child to be seen sitting on the carpet squares in the colorful, intimate Park Street performance space.
Written and directed by Carolyn Wright ’03, the play takes place at Captain’s Cove, a miniature golf course inhabited by such a strange cast of characters that it has a fantasy-world feeling reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Four members of a championship kid’s miniature golf team have come to Captain’s Cove for the afternoon but find their golfing hampered by the repeated mysterious disappearances of their golf balls. Unbeknownst to the golf champs, this is due to the course’s resident golf-ball-loving crocodile, Klide, who, with her friend Hyde (who much prefers fish to golf balls), lies in wait in a swamp to capture and devour the balls of unsuspecting golfers. “Mystery” chronicles the kids’ search for the source of this bizarre problem and their interactions with the course’s two insane employees.
There is not much of a plot, but the wacky cast of characters, clever one-liners, and several opportunities for audience participation keep things interesting. There is even a moral to this story: namely, “don’t take other people’s stuff.”
The best performances come from two of the minor characters. Monica Jimenez ’02 is hilarious as the somewhat submissive Hyde: her mere facial expressions draw more laughs than any of the show’s jokes. Katelin Carr ’04 plays the course’s proud vendor with such a remarkable amount of energy, shouting to the overwhelmed kids (“no one has ever scored a perfect 18, and no one ever will!”) and jumping all around the stage, that it seems impossible for her not to be out of breath. Lauren Stephens ’04 is also energetic and funny as Georgina, the crazy hot dog vendor (the hot dogs come in purple and green). Allison Hertz ’05 (Klide) gives an excellent performance as well.
The set is simple and colorful, but the costumes are especially creative, particularly the adorable crocodile suits. Thanks to Wright, the play runs smoothly, and the blocking is natural and engaging, often bringing the actors close to the edge of the audience.
Judging by its success with a somewhat older-than-target audience last night (it kept a dozen Yalies giggling for a majority of the time), “Mystery At Captain’s Cove” should be an even bigger hit with kids.