For a child, a refrigerator box is a rocket to the moon. A tattered blanket doubles as cape gifting the wearer with powers of flight and invulnerability; a cardboard tube emits rays that decimate a target with searing lasers.
We grow up. Boxes, blankets and tubes that have accomplished their original function become purposeless, destined for the garbage. The properties of things become sharply defined, as does their value, now measured purely on a financial scale.
On rare occasion, though, a psyche escapes the smackdown of formal education, the pummeling of entrance into the workplace, and the beating into submission with which practicality holds us down for the ten-count. Sometimes the possessors of these extraordinary mentalities are kind enough to share their dreamings by letting the caprices that roar inside their minds burst out, in the form of art that is visionary, emancipated and transformational.
This is what Joseph O'Farrell, Miles O'Neil and Glen Watson, collectively known as The Suitcase Royale, achieve with what they bill as "junkyard theater." The trio employs unwanted furniture, discarded odds and ends, debris, jetsam, refuse and rubbish to construct brand-new environments in which to play. Most importantly, they have the ability to look at all of these things and see the promise hidden from the rest of us, then to remove the cauls from our eyes so we can see it, too.
On Nov. 8-10, as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Australia Festival, the Melbourne-based troupe will perform its stage work Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon at The Andy Warhol Museum. Chronicles sets the three on the road as The Butcher, The Doctor and The Newsman, on a journey beneath the earth rife with invention, danger, magic and mystery. While the spirit of childlike ingenuity is permitted open air in which to soar, the flight path is best suited for mature audiences. The fantasies unleashed can be traced to fable and fairy tale, while anthropomorphism of the inanimate summons the wildness of youth. But adulthood is evident in the references to the Wild West, folkloric murder, horror and sci-fi film, and Grand Guignol.
Serving as actors, writers, directors, designers, musicians, puppeteers and damn near everything else, they assemble a work of theater scruffy, scrappy and achingly undiluted. The approach joins the soul of madcap anarchy found in the best of the Marx Brothers and Mack Sennett to the self-sufficient purity found in traveling tent shows before box-office-enslaved producers pissed all over the flames of inspiration. The makers are unbridled. Witnessing their creativity run rampant, ours may find a little freedom as well.
The Suitcase Royale -- Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon 6 p.m. Thu., Nov. 8; 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 9; and 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 10. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $20. 412-456-6666 or www.AustraliaFestival.org