Below are descriptions of some of the main characters from East of Sun, West of the Moon.
The character Sophia, represents the leading character, protagonist if you will, of East of the sun west of the moon and the story evolves around two stories of growing up and evolving from a child and birthing into a woman.
Sophia's character has always been the pivotal character in all formats of east of the sun, west of the moon, but the director in this show, following along with what many directors have done in the past, has changed her name. Many names have been used before such as Karin in Brian Kral's version of the play written in 1987.
She is generally represented as a beautiful, lovely farm girl who is totally dedicated to her parents while maintaining her ability to dream of the far of future she longs for. She craves the life of a princess and even during the menial tasks she undertakes every day, the routine of milking the cows, collecting the eggs etc. she constantly dreams of having a better life
This dreaming of a better life is brought to a head when the knights of the realm hear of her beauty and rush from all over the land to court her. However, much to the dismay of her father, this goes a little to her head, with Sophia flaunting her gifts to him. This arrogance is quickly banished as with the declaration of war and the erratic depression of her father Sophia is forced to abandon her childish tendencies and head out on a quest to save her father.
The fact that she must grow up during a war is to show that she is growing up through a difficult time, leading onto the train of thought that everything that happens in the story is merely just her way of coping with the difficulties of wartime living, and that she mentally creates the journeys, talking butterflies, screaming monkeys and transforming frogs as a way of coping with the harsh realities of life. The director however has refused to release this information leaving it up to the young audience to enjoy.
Her journey combines all the elements of herself and the difficulties she must face as she commences the transition from girl to woman. Fear, courage, puberty, joy, choices, learning, growing and understanding are some of many things the charismatic young girl will face in her quest to save her dying father, allowing her that critical something we all strive for in our early years in life, which will give her the strength to save her lover Simon, and inevitably battle her nemesis Camilla, the equivalent of the dark aspect of everyone that we keep buried inside. Upon defeating Camilla, Sophia comes to a realization that we all have an inner troll and ends the play with the knowledge that if we don't let our troll out every so often, in small doses mind you, that our inner Trolls could easily emerge and disrupt our lives.
In other performances of this production, there is a mother character prominent throughout the story, one who guides and helps Sophia during her turmoil.
The director has gone from a different angle here, taking the mother out of the story and replacing her with multitudes of characters representing the mother's helpful nature. This he feels will make the story more fun for the children as rather than seeing a singular character during the play they are able to witness everything from know-it-all talking ants to fun loving seals. He does this to give the audience something fun to look at, believing that fun colours and a myriad of voices and accents will be more enjoyable than a single old lady character.
The Crone acts as a character separate to the story, speaking out as a narrator telling the story and filling in the gaps that the story is missing. She is a wise figure obviously knowing more than she is letting on, and seems to be enjoying this fact.
She is set up to be very sympathetic to Sophia's course, almost as if she is her mother. But her presence is much appreciated as it allows for great leaps of time and distance to be undertaken at the flick of her fingers. She is portrayed as an all powerful godlike figure that is able to twist and turn the story to her own ends, after all the entire story is birthed from her cauldron.
The father character has been included in most versions of this piece, either as a solid character or in some cases an ethereal being coming to Sophia from the dead as a ghost to help her in her quest. He loves his daughter immensely and while he obviously wishes her could give her a better life he is nervous and untrusting of the things he doesn't know about.
The director has chosen to include the Father in this piece as he felt him necessary due to the absence of Sophia's mother. The father turns into the reason for her quest, after losing his will to live due the army conscripts claiming his livestock for use as food.
This is one the characters the director has chosen to include for the audience's entertainment, but also as a crucial part in the story line. The Cow is not only an in story narrator but also the major cause for Sophia's quest, driving her father into fits of depression after being taken by the army.
The Owl is wise beyond her years in this play and is a prominent character in both the quests undertaken by the Young Sophia, being an advisor and guide.
The Owl in its great wisdom chooses to refuse her ability to communicate with Sophia until near the end of the play, which happens entirely by accident mind you, choosing to "Hoot" at her for attention, resulting in more trouble than results. The Owl is forever trying desperately to aid Sophia through subterfuge and subtlety, which due to Sophia's seeming ignorance of the world doesn't always go according to plan.
The Owl is aided by a butterfly acting as a translator between the Owl and Sophia. The butterfly is an amusing character packed choc full of attitude, and while Sophia is somewhat intimidated by the butterfly's bluntness, she soon learns to trust her intentions.
The Frog actually constitutes two characters in this story, firstly beginning as a frog sitting next to a pool waiting for Sophia, then evolving into a handsome prince. In both cases he is a kind loving soul who even in dire straits will try and make others happy.
This characteristic is evident when, even though Sophia had practically condemned him to a life of zombie like indifference and torture at the hands of Camilla, he still attempted to convince her that it was not her fault, yet had she allowed him three days of her life to sit on her windowsill, which was the agreed payment for helping her retrieve the cup from the singing well, would've allowed him a life of freedom and happiness with Sophia.
The Frog has been represented as many different animals in many different performances, ranging from a bear to a dog, but he is always set up as an animal who requires a simple wish to be saved, yet Sophia in her arrogance refuses him.
Camilla, The Queen of the Trolls, is spawned from Sophia's selfishness and betrayal of trust towards Simon. This act gave birth to the dark side of Sophia's nature and gave her the power to run rampant throughout Sophia's life.
Camilla represents all the bad things that lie dormant inside all of us, and what happens when we forget to let our anger go every once in a while. She is comedic, yet serious at the same time, and a very important aspect to the overall message of the play. Her theft of Simons freedom, giving way to Sophia's quest to save him can be paralleled by the lessons we will all learn when we bottle our emotions, be it anger or sadness, for too long resulting in an explosion of negativity in our life. The Troll Queen character has been used in all the productions of the piece, being critical to Sophia's mental growth. Not always named, however, the characteristics are still practically the same as in other productions.
The character Tiamet, is a great Dragon, A hugely powerful and intelligent force, representing a difficult and fear-inspiring force that Sophia must overcome. The dragons eyes are said to melt the bones of those who bear witness to them. Sophia, quelling her fear with her courage inspired by her love for Simon, stands up to the challenge knowing full well she could die, the dragon impressed by her act of selflessness departs to her the information needed to continue her quest,
There are many other characters that the director has chosen to include in this production ranging from Ants who know everything, crazy screaming monkeys, fun loving seals and tempting snakes, butterfly's with attitude and magic warding trees. Each character is there to fulfil a specific purpose in the story with the majority of them representing the many aspects that the mother character would undertake had she been included. As every character has a meaning, so do the character groups represent things. The farm animals represent the monotony of rural life in which Sophia must grow up in and also her innocence and naivety. The forest animals represent things that we fear through misunderstanding or misrepresentation.
When Sophia disembarks for her second adventure you will notice that many of the animals remain the same, while many change or completely disappear. This has been put in to show her growing up and maturing. The animals that are no longer present representing those that she has grown out of.
The many characters in this piece, while being placed there as comedic and entertaining for the children, all have pedagogical intentions behind them and have helped to turn the theatre into a clever learning tool for teachers everywhere.