'Big Apple Parent' Review
Portrait of the artist as a young girl
"Misunderstood, underappreciated and dreaming of better things to come- sound like the blueprint for a budding artist? Well, these are exactly the symptoms affecting 10-year-old genius-in-training, Noonie Norton. Lisa Railsback's newest play, "Noonie's Masterpiece in Purple", explores the struggles many artists, even the youngest ones-must endure.
This award-winning play is the latest production by the Looking Glass Theater, a company devoted to producing works by new women writers. It begins as pigtailed Noonie (played by Madeleine Mager), a self-proclaimed "great painter", puts the finishing touches on her latest work. She is wide-eyed about the possibilities which lay before her. Amiration for legendary painters such as Van Gogh, O'Keeffe, and Picasso, coupled with her steadfast belief in what it means to be an artist-including posthumous fame, misinterpreation, and isolation-inspire Noonie to create conscequently helping to bridge the gulf with her father, who is globetrotting on business. Her mother having "flown away to the sky" when she was younger, Noonie inherited a new family, which includes an unemployed car salesman of an uncle; a dental hygienist of an aunt who is fanatical about teeth cleanliness; a bullying, wannabe action-figure of a cousin; and a doughnut-obsessed babysitter who watches soap operas. In lieu of the supportive family she reallly needs, her teacher, Ms. Lily, urges Noonie to enter the upcoming art contest. Noonie uses her "artist mind" to transform the defining characteristics of each family member into what she thinks is an abstract masterpiece, only to have her faith crushed by her families misguided mockary.
Divine guidence comes when Van Gogh, O'Keeffe, and Picasso pay Noonie a visit, inflating her hopes with positive messages such as "Artists never quit," and "Artists have the power to change the world." Soon Noonie unlocks the magic of the artist's mind.
While the characters are colorful, fairly one-dimentional caricatures, there are lessons to be learned, not only about the importance of art, but about the wings sprouted from faith in oneself. Children, especially 12 and under, may find themselves relating to the starry-eyed and expressively spirtited Noonie, as well as her pestering friend, Reno. Several New Age-style songs (including music by Enya) lend ambiance to the show, and one of Noonie's paintings-which literally takes center stage during the end of a performance-is resplended. The show balances light-heartedness with a deeper message about both art and life."