I may not be venturing terribly far onto a rhetorical limb to note that our national mind isn’t exactly in a state of harmony this week, this month, this year. It isn’t so much that our divided camps don’t agree with one another (why should they, and when did they ever?), but that we’ve lost the talent for even agreeing to disagree. Shout into a canyon and you get an echo—and no matter what your politics or identity, an echo is only a simulation of another’s voice.
Seed Folks at Children’s Theatre Company is a remarkable show in its timing, a stripped-down narrative adapted from the book of the same name by Paul Fleischman. It begins with the young girl Kim, who plants a seed in a vacant lot in honor of her deceased father, then moves through a cast of characters of diverse ages and backgrounds—their mutual distrust, indifference, fear, and eventual weaving together into a humble if supremely life-affirming testament to the concept of co-existence, understanding, and the benefits of getting to know one another.
It’s quite a trick, not least because all of this is pulled off solely by the person of actor Sonja Parks, who masterfully moves through postures, accents, and tones of spirit to make this series of fragments into a whole that is by turns funny, illuminating, touching, and broadening. Directed by Peter Brosius, this show feels like a profound meditation on the threads that pull us together—the tapestry of ideas and experience that illuminates our best selves and can banish the divisions that dilute and cheapen our experience of living.
But don’t take it from me—this show doesn’t preach for an instant, it’s all pure storytelling and washes over you in about an hour in the form of Parks’ absolutely compelling performance. In the intimacy of CTC’s second stage, it fees like a balm for days of incoherent disharmony and a riven society. A funky spurned lover, an old woman staring out a window, our little girl from the opener—it’s not that they join arms and paper over their differences, but they learn what it means to live with them in peace and common purpose. Its enough to give one hope that the greater world might eventually adopt the same way of being.
Seed Folks plays at Children’s Theatre Company through November 16.