“Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
`Come buy our orchard fruits
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges…'”
The beginning of Christina Rosetti's long poem, a cautionary tale, leads sisters Lizzie and Laura into a contest of who can recite/repeat a long list of fruit, adding one each time.
“Goblin Market” is a curious, intriguing theater piece by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon, based on the Rosetti poem, written in 1862 by the famous British poet.
It is a good choice for the small, storefront Spark Theater at 985 Santa Fe Dr. in the Arts District. It requires two actor/singers and is done using very simple props in the 40-seat space.
The script arrived with a score and Spark had to commission a trio of musicians — Rob Lowe on piano, Sadie Van Vranken on violin and James Bauman on cello — to perform throughout the production.
The performance is mainly sung, using words from the poem.
The language is quaint, Victorian and lends itself to more than one interpretation —such as the sexual repressions and ideas about temptation, sin and redemption felt by young Victorian gentlewomen.
I strongly recommend that audience members take 15 minutes to read through the text before you go — it's readily available online. It adds a great deal to one's enjoyment of the performance.
Meredith Young plays caring Lizzie and Krista Kuhn is impulsive sister Laura, who is led astray. Their trained voices blend well and enunciation is clear but the elaborate turn of phrase in the poetry — standard for the mid-19 century — gives the theater lover an experience akin to getting one's ears in tune at the start of a Shakespearean performance.
Director Amanda Flageolle has blocked the movement as well as possible, given the space limitations and lighting is managed nicely.
It's an unusual night at the theater — recommended for the adventurous.
“Goblin Market” plays through March 15 at Spark Theater, 985 Santa Fe Dr., Denver. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets: $20, 720-346-7396, www.sparktheater.org.