Otterville : A Play in 2 Acts
Ivy lay on her back and stared at me. On cue, she rolled, flipped and squealed. Then the rest of the company came onto the water tank and took on their roles. Quite a few were gymnasts; but there was no shortage of clowns either – fools, as Shakespeare might cast…..
Ivy stars as junior surrogate mother after having successfully played companion animal for many years. 3 recently rescued wild pups (who supposedly know nothing) must be taught to groom themselves and crack open shellfish to get at the nourishment inside. Even though otters in the wild have one pup only, Ivy is up to the task and shows no favoritism among her 3. But there must have been one that was special.
Act 1 ends with one baby otter lying on Ivy’s stomach as she floated away off-stage – on her back.
Do you know why otters lie on their back?
Unlike other cold water inhabitants, Otters don’t have fat to keep warm. They have hair. By trapping air into mega-millions of hair on their body they create a protective fur. It’s why Otters were almost hunted to extinction. But the feet (flippers?) and hands (flippers?) don’t have hair so they stick them out of the cold water to prevent heat loss. Well that’s what the narrator said but I am convinced it’s because Ivy was waving at me; and she soon had baby otters doing it too.
I waved back.
Act 2: Simulation Stimulation. Four fully grown adult females squeezed, whacked, slimed, swirled and smashed plastic tubes that had fresh frozen shrimp (nothing but the best for our players) trapped inside The tubes dangled about and moved but the otters persevered. It could be sheer merriment or it could be purposeful. Suddenly, one player popped up against the Plexiglas wall just in front of a fellow audience member, who happened to be a boy of about 7, and went – whack!
The look on the child’s face – Priceless!
Cast members floated off-tank as we clapped and called Author, Author; or should I say Otter! Otter!
Being ex-HP and connected (yup that’s us – high-powered and well-connected as I used to say about my router) we got us a photo-op with Julie Packard (tallest one in the back row). We also got a backstage tour because we includes EmGee – otter stage hand and scrubber extraordinaire; among other things she keeps the sets clear and clean so everyone gets the best seat in the house.
I bet, each one of us in an audience of about 50 felt the otters performed just for us. Isn’t what they say about Sir Whatchamacallhim; when he says “To be or not to be….” it is just for you?
Producer : David Packard
Director : Julie Packard
Playwright : Monterey Bay Aquarium Staff
Pics : Internet and Betty