The Children’s Theatre Company travels to India for “Iron King,” a quick-witted and paced fantasy that delves into heavy territory on its way to the expected happy ending. Featuring a cast of fluid performers and anchored by traditional Bharatanatyan dance (provided by Ragamala Dance), the show touches deep on issues of freedom and sacrifice.
The tale, adapted by Charles Way from Lloyd Alexander’s book, follows young King Tamar, who after losing a game of dice, is honor-bound to travel to a far-away kingdom and offer his life to the victor. He is joined by his teacher, Rajaswami, and along the way, a menagerie of animals who aid him on his journey. He also finds a woman, Mirri, who loves him, even though she is far below his caste; and eventually becomes embroiled in a civil war.
At times, all of the to-ing and fro-ing can get a bit exhausting, but by the time the show gets rolling to the conclusion, that falls away to reveal its heart. After failing at a battle, Tamar becomes the lowest of the low, a slave to an untouchable, washing and preparing the dead for cremation. It is here that he learns his deepest lessons and where the show finds its real power. As Tamar, Reed Sigmund gets to show considerable range, moving from a young-if-naïve king to a much-more wise man through the course of the play.
Beyond that, its the animals led by Dean Holt as the man-monkey Hashkat, that really steal the show.
“Iron King” runs through April 10 at the Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis. Tickets are $15-$40. For information and tickets, call 612.874.0400 or visit online.