By Bethany Ruhe
Pittsburgh Current Associate Publisher
Micheal Morpurgo’s ‘Elephant in the Garden’ will be at the Byham Theater this weekend as a part of the EQT Bridge Theater Series.
Elephant in the Garden is the story of a mother and her two children, fleeing Nazi Germany. Along the way, they rescue a baby elephant and meet a Canadian officer, a school choir, and a Countess.
While it’s set in WW II, the themes of the show resonate strongly today. Star of the show, Alison Reid, posits that “WWI and WWII have a lot of stories that can help teach young people,” and part of Morpurgo’s genius is doing it in a way that makes it accessible and relatable to a young audience.
Elephant in the Garden will be at the Byham Theater with shows Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 2 pm. Tickets are $12.
It is also a story about refugees in crisis. Reid says, “They are literally running for their lives. We can all be refugees, even in our own countries.”
Reid assures there are many laughs to be had along the way. While some of the subject matter is a bit weighty, the family is traveling with and trying at times to hide, a baby elephant. “Part of Morpurgo’s genius is making these stories accessible and understandable,” she says.
Elephant in the Garden is a one-woman show, with Reid playing all of the characters. “It’s always scary, always terrifying, but always great fun,” she says of the role. Even though some of the characters are male, Reid believes that one of the core messages is that of empowering strong women and that the themes are universal. “There are messages of empathy, of resilience, that will translate to all.”
Reid has been with this show since the beginning. She has toured all over the UK and is thrilled to bring it to US audiences. The starting point of the play is the Berlin Wall coming down. “It’s a time of change, the end of the cold war,” says Reid. And put against the backdrop of everything happening in the world right now, the messages of love, resolve and humanity will resonate all the more. Says Reid, “No one is the enemy, really. It’s the civilians who get caught in politicians wars.”
Recommended for ages 7+. This show features: acting, music, storytelling, humor, communication skills, conflict resolution. The theater will be darkened at times during the show. There are elements of surprise.