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Non-Geographically Specific Theater Reviews' Journal
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Below are the 3 most recent journal entries recorded in Non-Geographically Specific Theater Reviews' LiveJournal:

Friday, July 10th, 2009
4:54 am
Theatre Unleashed offers TWO modern classics in rep!

The ambitious company takes another bold step in just its second year, with Sarah Kane’s “4.48 Psychosis” and David Ives’ “All in the Timing” running side by side.

LOS ANGELES – Theatre Unleashed is excited to present Contemporary Constructions, its third and fourth Main Stage shows of the season, running in rep from Aug. 7-30 at The Sherry Theatre in North Hollywood. A celebration of two very distinct modern day playwright geniuses, Contemporary Constructions will feature Sarah Kane’s final poetic plunge into the depths of depression, 4.48 Psychosis, as well as David Ives’ comedy of the absurd, All in the Timing.

4.48 Psychosis, by Sarah Kane“Doing shows in rep has been a goal of ours because it gives us a chance to stretch and expand upon the ‘rules’ of theatre,” said Artistic Director Phillip Kelly. “With these two polar opposite shows, we’ve allowed ourselves to give our own inspired touch to recognizable pieces whose only similarity is that they were written by playwrights with a true gift for words…words that speak volumes.”

Kelly will direct 4.48 Psychosis, a show that confronts clinical depression straight on by allowing the audience to see inside the mind of a depressive in the hours before her suicide. This brutally honest show also explores the many factors that lead to that decision. As she approaches 4:48 a.m., the time of night in which depressives supposedly see the clearest, her imagination begins to meld with her reality, driving her closer and closer to the edge. To enhance the breaking of the main character’s psyche, the show will also feature the use of dance, live cello music, strategically placed mirrors and multimedia projection.

“I wanted to take a cue from Kane’s notion that beautiful art can be derived from even the darkest of subject matters,” Kelly said. “The idea is to use these different tools and art forms to help create the haunting and emotionally jarring effect of the slowly crumbling minds of the two female protagonists as they inch closer to the meaning of their mortality.”

All in the Timing, by David IvesThe second part of Contemporary Constructions will be the Ives’ classic comedic collection of one-acts, All in the Timing, directed by Carlos Martinez. Bizarre humor at its best, Martinez is sticking to the original lineup that made up the earliest rendition of the show, including: Sure Thing, The Universal Language, Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread, The Philadelphia, Variations on the Death of Trotsky and Words, Words, Words. Though each vignette is capable of standing on its own, Martinez is looking to take the show a step further, melding the pieces together with the use of creative lighting, sound and movement.

“The idea is to take the audience through an abstract journey into the craziness and outlandish relationships that make up the show,” Martinez said. “It’s such a funny show that get s funnier with each reading and each viewing and of course, that honest comedy is what we’re focusing on. But we also hope to grab people by more than just their funny bone.”

Theatre Unleashed is also excited to announce Tales of an Unsettled City: Revelations, the third installment in its late night theatre series, running Saturdays at 10:15 p.m. after presentations of Contemporary Constructions. Theatre Unleashed is coming off a string of sellout shows for the original full-length Tracing Sonny and the recent installment of the Galleries Series, Metamorphose.

Saturday, January 17th, 2009
11:23 am
"Anne of Green Gables" in Waterloo, IA
As the present world seems to have a bleak future, in 19th century St. Edward Island, an orphan named Anne Shirley is approaching the world with a wide-eyed innocence and a rather amusing maturity.

The stage adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables that opened Friday at the Hope Martin Theatre, a cast of eight, led by an undeniably talented Emma Rathe in the title role, give one of the greatest performances ever seen on that stage.

The show, under the direction of Tyler Hayes Stillwill, brings warmth and liveliness to the show, but at the same time they contain that energy to prevent the show from being over the top.

The show follows Anne (Rathe), an orphan that has lived with multiple foster families. She winds up with siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (Kent Guild and Fran Guild), who sent for a boy to aid with the chores at Green Gables. After a constant struggle as to whether or not to send Anne back to receive the boy they wanted, Anne stays with the Cuthberts, and becomes friends with Diana Barry (Grace Gubbrud) while having a rivalry with Gilbert Blythe (Nick Schlumbohm).

Rathe gives what is quite possibly the best performance by someone under the age of 18 on the Hope Martin's stage. She is an ebullient ball of joy, lighting up every dark corner of the theater with her presence. She does not just play the role, but she becomes Anne Shirley in all of her over-dramatic glory. Even in the most amusing point of the show, one can feel the heart of young Anne breaking through the body language used by Rathe.

What is quite possibly the highlight of her performance is the issue of Anne's dreaded red hair. Rathe has rather light red hair that looks rather blond in the stage lights. But she makes the us believe that she has the bright red hair we tend to associate with red heads.

The portrayals of those surrounded by Anne shows several of the characters belting away their exteriors like the snow outside needs to melt. Fran Guild starts off as a stern woman, but while still keeping that sternness, we see a softer side of Marilla that has been transformed by the young child. Kent Guild also starts off as a beffuddled Matthew, but becomes a lively man after encountering Anne.

There is also that of the two other young actors, Gubbrud and Schlumbohm. When Anne and Diana first start off as friends, Gubbrud gives a delightfully deadpan performance as she informs Anne that she doesn't have the flights of imagination that the orphan does. But as the show progresses, she becomes the sweet, concerned, opinionated, obedient soul that becomes "bosom friends" with Anne (at the performance I attended, there were several giggles heard every time Rathe said "bosom friends." I'm not sure if this was because of the use of the word "bosom," or because of how well the archaic term came out of her mouth).

Schlumbohm also gives an excellent performances as Gilbert, who starts off as the demonic--I mean demonic in the nicest way--young boy that calls Anne's hair "carrots," to becoming the sweet, gentleman that is transformed into something of a Sir Lancelot.

Even the minor players give fantastic performances, most notably Terry Kottman, who doubles as the gossipy Mrs. Lynde and the despicable Mrs. Blewett. During a scene in which Mrs. Blewett is discussing taking Anne from the Cuthberts, Kottman seems to almost be channeling the witch in Hansel and Gretle as she grabs Rathe's arm and talks about how bony she is.

Mary Gubbard and Brad Brist, who also designed the lights, are also fantastic as the stern yet sweet characters of Mrs. Barry and Mr. Phillips.

While the script trims away several details of the book the show sticks to the major details of the book while mentioning some major events in a conversation between characters.

Both Geoff Ehrendreich's set and Danielle Warnke's costumes are white, with the occasional hint of a light brown. The abstract set of boards and branches provides excellent sillouettes with Brist's lights that at the end of a scene are almost a black out, but have brightly colored lights glowing in the background.

At the beginning of the show, Anne tells us that she will never marry, but hopes to someday have a white gown. She seems to get a white gown, despite the problems that she faces, but so do the other characters and those of us merely watching the show.

(Anne of Green Gables runs through Sunday at the Hope Martin Theater in the Waterloo Center for the Arts. Saturday and Sunday performances are at 2 PM. Tickets are $10 for students and adults and are available at the box office, wcpbhct.org, or by calling 319-291-4494. The show is approximately an hour and twenty minutes long with a fifteen minute intermission.)
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
7:41 pm
'Gross Indecency' in Palo Alto, CA
Just got back from the closing performance of Gross Indecency: the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moises Kaufman at the Dragon Theater in Palo Alto, because I am a junkie and if I could I would own season tickets to every theatre within fifty miles of wherever I am at any given time. This particular play was a Theatre Q production, which I guess is queer theatre and which I've never encountered before, but hope to encounter again in the future.

The play was... well, exactly what it sounds like: the three trials of Wilde's rather epic downfall. First off, let me admit forthright that I am completely besotted with Oscar Wilde and I would travel in time and grow parts just for him, if it were within my abilities. This play did much to fuel my crush, though not just because the actor was pretty or anything, don't worry. John T. Aney, a rather distinguished-looking gentleman, played Wilde with every ounce of arrogance, reverence, and aestheticism that the role demanded, and brought some beautifully genuine emotions that I would not have picked up from the text alone; every time Wilde had a spare moment with Lord Alfred Douglas (Scott Ludwig), the tender intimacy brought home the intrusive voyeurism that pervaded the whole ordeal.

The play itself was impeccably well-written, complete with in-text citations that I absolutely adored. The narrative structure was especially curious: the program lists eight, count them eight narrators, all of whom also play various roles that flit in and out of the trials. The notion of effectively having more narrators than characters brought into question the very role of a narrator, and made me want to write all sorts of tl;dr literary essays that no one would read because it is summer, Kirby, stop doing homework on your vacation. Director George Quick (awesome name) did a great job working this to its best, having the cloud of narrators hovering and quibbling and commentating on the trial as it progressed. The staging and the prop use both sent me into literary paroxysms of glee, okay?

Oh, let me also mention while I am at it the scenery, lighting, and costume, because mentioning that sort of thing gets me in good with my mama. The costumes were interesting-- there was a strong theme of Hey Let's All Wear Black, with a brief bout of Kinky Underdoos in the second act. This would not have been particularly remarkable had it not been for the set, which was almost all stark white, softened only by some truly masterful lighting and the black substage (Is there a word for that? Stage on a stage) upon which the majority of the titular trials took place. Also, there was this filter that projected a pageful of Wilde's messy handwriting across the set during non-play times and a short interlude at the beginning of the second act, and it was gorgeous and I wanted to eat it. Made the whole thing look like a book, which is just the coolest thing ever. Lighting designer Neil Satterlund deserves hugs and kisses and chocolate. Set designer Ron Gasparinetti and Costume designer Mark Nagel also deserve smooches.

Note: This is cross-posted to my journal, and is also intended to serve as a sort of example of the minimum expectations of the community. Please, please, aspire to better than this. Also, note the tags.
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