Travel is one of the few things in this world we can say has existed since the beginning of the human race. Traveling Papers, conceived by Barbara Bosch and Martin Tackel, and produced by Laurel Valley Productions, demonstrates this well as it traces the theme of travel throughout decades of classic literature, as well as some brief quotes from modern day figures.
Traveling Papers is not an original play in the traditional sense, but it is an original and intriguing concept. The piece strings together scenes and anecdotes from famous works of literature and reenacts them on stage in a humorous fashion. While an uninspired director could merely have the actors parody the work or joke at the expense of their (intentionally) limited prop effects, here the humor is contained within the story and driven by the actors and their characters, letting the words and the performances work for the laughs.
The works Bosch and Tackel have chosen for their show include pieces from Robert Louis Stevenson, Edith Wharton, Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman and even Anthony Bourdain. One would be hard-pressed to imagine all of these varying works meshing together but thanks to the overlying theme of travel their commonalities are brought to the surface. Through the many passages the audience is treated to scenes that glorify the wonder, the excitement and, of course, the frustrations of traveling, such as packing or being lost in a foreign country. As many of the passages acted out on stage come from the authors' personal accounts, it isn't hard for the audience to relate to them.
In addition to co-conceptualizing the show, Barbara Bosch directs the ensemble cast. The cast itself is glowing with seven experienced character actors who brilliantly inhabit a host of unique individuals throughout the course of the play. Gwen Arment, John Camera, Kyle Doherty, Gwen Eyster, Peter Husovsky, Macy Idzakovich and Jillian Stevens all carry dramatic and comedic strengths worthy of a television sketch show. Husovsky in particular emulates a Bryan Cranston-esque likability to his characters.
Traveling Papers is a fascinating concept that is sure to entertain fans of literature, theatre and anyone who may have their own travel stories to tell. If nothing else, it provides a hearty laugh for your evening.