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"Comet in Moominland" sends back to childhood

"Comet in Moominland", the season's first production by the New Victory Theater, resembles a play staged in your child's bedroom, with the kinds of toys you wish you had the time to make yourself.

Held in a well curtained, modestly sized room that will make you think you have been squeezed under someone's canopy, "Moominland" has no assigned seating, and no seats. Ticket holders are asked to remove their shoes, find a place on the carpet and look around and wonder at the four covered tables, one against each wall.

Puppeteers Jennifer Lyon and David Warburton gently re-enact the late Tove Jansson's beloved story of scenic Moominland and the rumored comet that has hippo-headed pals Moomintroll and Sniff in a panic and eager for help. An epic journey, spanning the four corners of the room, soon follows.

Table by table, the covers are lifted, revealing scale models of mountains, monsters, caves, trees and houses, a miracle of wood, wires, cloth and other everyday scraps, like the strips of glass transformed into shining bodies of water.

Grown-ups, be warned that "Comet in Moominland" can be hard on a bad back or a sore knee. Even for a 55-minute production, muscles can tighten on that carpet and necks strain: At a recent performance, one smart parent simply requested a chair.

But a good story, like this one, makes you forget about time and space, and body. "Comet in Moominland" lures you in to the point of hypnosis, especially as you follow the mysterious comet that grows - and glows - from a dot of red on the wall to a warm ball of white.

Directed by Kim Selody, adapted from the original book by Graham Whitehead, "Comet in Moominland" runs through Oct. 14.

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