The Magic Finger is the second of two Roald Dahl’s children’s stories reimagined for the stage and now in repertory at Imagination Stage. The Magic Finger is one of Roald Dahl’s lesser-known stories, but his message is still very relevant.
The story is narrated by Lucy (Megan Graves), an 8-year-old girl who is especially sensitive to the injustices she sees around her. While on a visit to the farm of her new school chum, William Gregg (Matthew Schleigh), she discovers that he and his parents enjoy duck hunting. Lucy detests hunting animals for sport, and her index finger soon turns the Greggs’ lives upside down.
Children should enjoy the large amount of audience interaction in this production.
When Lucy gets very upset and frustrated, see begins to feel warm, then she sees red, and then her “magic finger” takes over. It points at whatever is upsetting Lucy and magically alters it in ways not even Lucy can predict. For the Greggs, this means that they are changed into tiny people with wings, while the ducks become human-sized with arms.
The Greggs are forced out of their house by the duck family and must build and live in a nest high in a tree. After the Greggs spend a miserable night outside in the tree, they wake to see the duck family pointing the Greggs’ own guns at them, ready to shoot just like the Greggs have done so many times before. Mrs. Gregg is terrified and begs the ducks not to shoot her child. It is then that Mrs. Gregg realizes that shooting ducks means killing members of the ducks’ family. During the Greggs’ most recent hunting trip, they killed three children of the family of ducks now living in their house. The Greggs promise never to hunt again, and with that promise they are changed back into normal humans. To commemorate the experience, they even change their last name to Eggs.
The story comes to life with the help of a fanatic set designed by Milagros Ponce de Leon that features a life-,size, two-story house. The bird puppets by Matthew McGee were beautiful (but the puppets of the Gregg family were a bit small and hard to see), and the duck costumes, designed by Kendra Rai, were delightfully comical (and made from bike helmets!).
Children should enjoy the large amount of audience interaction in this production. They will also enjoy the comedy routines performed by the quacking family of live-size ducks, who waddle around the stage learning what their new arms can do. Wonderful physical comedy is delivered by Joe Brack as Mr. Duck, Lauren Du Pree as Mrs. Duck and Phillip Reid as Master Duck.
Running Time: 90 minutes with one intermission.
The Magic Finger is playing through June 2, 2013, at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814. For tickets, call the box office at 301-280-1660 or click here.