Thursday, April 04, 2019

The Play's The Thing! Night Play: A Bedtime Story in Three Acts by Lizi Boyd

Little Arlo is already attired in his stripey pajamas and paper nightcap and is ready to head for bed. But his toy bedtime buddies are not!

"I'm so sleepy. Just one more play and off to bed." Arlo says.

"Oh, yay!" says Bunny.

"Hooray!" says Cat

"Yippee!" says 'Coon.

"Starring Arlo and Friends!" announces Bird.

It's ACT I. The curtain is pulled back, revealing a backdrop of a lake with sailboats and a small island in the center. Arlo's menagerie of stuffed animals get to work as stagehands and impromptu actors. Oars for the sailboat are located, and Bird scouts out the wind, but it seems their little audience, Arlo, is already dozing.
"Let him sleep! We'll do Act II!"

The curtain opens again upon a medieval scene, as Cat hands out the costumes, but rest of cast finds their knightly stage garb too itchy, too heavy, and too hard to see out of. The production seems to falling apart. Sets get haphazardly switched, with grumpy actors going off-script and getting downright rowdy.

At last, Arlo wakes up and takes charge of the production. The cast of characters fall in line and follow the director. The show must go on, and together they complete the play.

And in a dramatic final sweep of the curtain comes ACT III...
All sail away...

And cast and crew and Arlo, too, sail off to dreamland at last, in Lizi Boyd's latest, Night Play (Chronicle Books, 2018). Ever since Wynken and Blynken and Nod sailed off one night into a sea of dew, kids have been drifting off to dreamland with a bedtime story, and this beddie-bye tale showing toys and little sleeper Arlo cooperating to create their own backdrops (presumably painted by the stage crew between pages) allows them to perform the roles in their own play.

Youngsters will love artist Boyd's text, with plenty of speech balloons delivered by the plushy performers, as well as her skillful manipulation of the toy-and-movable format which uses die-cut pages to provide the opening and closing stage curtain between scenes. It's a novel bedtime story, concluding in a showstopper of a double-page gatefold as the performers, their night play over, take their bows and toddle offstage to bed. This book is something of a tour-de-force for Lizi Boyd, whose earlier sleeping-out bedtime tale, Flashlight, similar in style if not in palette, was a hit in its clever use of black and white contrasts. (see review here).

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