This Mosquito Doesn’t Bite: Kid Koala at OzArts.
The opening night of OzArt’s The Storyville Mosquito featured a unique kind of immersive storytelling: a movie in three acts created live. The show was sold out, an additional showing added due to high demand. Audience members were able to see the creation of the film on stage with fourteen performers, multiple sets, cameras, puppets, video editors, and live music. The film itself was projected onto a screen above the stage. Created, directed, and scored by Kid Koala (Eric San), The Storyville Mosquito is a heartwarming story of new beginnings, love, and the search for happiness.
Eric San, known as Kid Koala, is a world-renowned scratch DJ who has toured with Radiohead, the Beastie Boys, Mone Mark, A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Shadow, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band and performed on Late Night with David Letterman. He has contributed to scores for the films The Great Gatsby, Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Men Women and Children, Shaun of the Dead and Looper amongst others. He has composed music for The National Film Board of Canada, the Cartoon Network, Sesame Street and Adult Swim. He showed off his skillfulness at scratching in the performance, but this is hardly his only talent. Throughout the show, San played the clarinet, guitar, and ukulele and adds all the sounds for the characters. Fans of Kid Koala might be jealous to hear that he previewed his upcoming album. No need to be too envious: he placed the album down and played precisely one second of one track.
The 72 minute production contained no spoken word except for one moment in the third act when the audience is encouraged to chant “Mosquito” to support the main character in a moment of doubt and anxiety. This, combined with the fact that all the characters are puppets and cannot technically emote, made the music and sound vitally important to the show. Besides Kid Koala, there were three musicians: Marcus Takizawa on the violin, David Campbell on the cello, and Lana Tomlin on the viola. These four are responsible for guiding the audience on how to feel in each scene. The antagonist, an angry tarantula, is always accompanied by harsh, jarring rock music. The avocado, a side character who always seems to be ruining the fun, speaks with a loud honking sound reminiscent of the adults in Peanuts. The strings set the mood for each scene: a hopeful, lively tune for the opening of act one; a slow, despairing movement for the end of act two; and a moving, and stirring finish for the end of the show. The audience was fully engaged: laughing, gasping, and sighing in all the right places.
The narrative focuses on Mosquito as he travels to the big city with his clarinet and sheet music in the hopes of playing in one of the greatest bands of all time at Sid Villa’s Music Hall. Mosquito is a plucky protagonist that the audience can’t help but identify with and celebrate. There’s a sweet love story within the tale involving a katydid that owns a noodle shop. She too is pursuing her dream, although her business isn’t doing well. The story forces the audience to examine what we view as success and happiness, and what it means to reach our dreams. At a low moment, Mosquito despairs and tosses away his clarinet, but through the encouragement of Katy (and a little later, the audience) he is able to find his way back to his love of music. At the end, when Mosquito plays without sheet music, touching the hearts of his puppet audience and the audience beyond the fourth wall, he connect with us in way that goes beyond commercial success. The happiness that he finds reminds us to enjoy and cherish the wonderful things we have in our lives. The real joy of life is appreciating the friends and talents that enable us to follow our dreams in the first place. The search is over, happiness is right beside us. Next up at OzArts, is Joan Baez in conversation with Emmylou Harris on April 8.