Through the Mickle Woods

A woman walks into an attic, dressed for a funeral. She looks around at the trunk containing her old play things, and she picks up teddy bear. Suddenly, she hears a knock from inside the trunk. A hand shoots out holding a letter and a strange ring. The letter says:

"Do one thing more for me, my King, my Love. Into the dark and mickle woods go forth to find the bear. This child will give him my ring. And when the bells ring out at morning tide, mark you closely, how merrily they sing."

A boy springs out of the trunk and the attic is magically transformed into a throne room. The boy crowns the woman and presents her the ring and letter. She agrees to go on the adventure to find the Old Bear.

Through the Mickle Woods is my favorite children's story. Someone gave my family the book in 1995, so it's been a part of my life 20 years. I make time to read it every time I visit my family in Iowa.

In the story, the queen has recently died, and her last wish was for the boy, Michael, and the king to take her ring to the Old Bear who lives in the mickle woods. Michael is excited to see the mysterious bear and hear his stories, but the king says he has no time for stories. The bear talks them into staying for 3 stories -- each feels like a parable and teaches the king something about grief. Michael's joy and wonder give contrast to the kin's stoicism as they learn how to greive their loss together.

I wanted to bring my kid's heart into the show, so the props and set were all designed to look like crafts a kid could make on a rainy day. The cave is made of cardboard, the ring is Velcro and the simplicyt adds charm to the story.

 

The fairytale quality of this story was beautifully illustrated for the audience with paper-cut props, bells, homemade trinkets and icicles, and then enhanced with sounds such as children playing in the background and, once in a while, a modern beat that enlivened the mood.
— McKenzie Graham, City Beat

Read the full City Beat review here.