While the play takes place in Chelm -- a centuries-old imaginary town of fools that's often referenced in Eastern European Jewish folklore -- the narrative about a foundling mute named Menachem who becomes the town moonwatcher is original, written by ATJT members. The job of guarding the Earth's satellite is an occupation of the utmost importance to Chelm, since the Jewish calendar revolves around lunar cycles. Menachem loves the luminous orb, but he starts to take his new job too seriously, and begins to see the moon more as a scientific phenomenon than as his friend. The celestial body becomes disenchanted with the boy's new analytical attitude, and disappears. Now it's up to Menachem and the wacky townspeople to find it -- because without it, Chanukah can't happen.
While pure physical comedy is at the heart of Moonwatcher, the characters are also philosophical, in line with the nature of the piece. ATJT hopes that Moonwatcher -- its first family-centered play, and a far cry from its usual avant-garde fare -- stands out against the usual Bay Area holiday lineup. Who knows? Maybe Tiny Tim has finally met his match.