Thursday, September 29, 2011

This North Coast Weekend

At Dell’Arte for two weekends beginning Thursday (Sept. 29), the physical comedy ensemble Under the Table presents The Hunchbacks of Notre Dame. Yes, that’s “hunchbacks” plural (three to be precise.) It’s an adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic created in Blue Lake with Dell’Arte’s Ronlin Foreman. It’s performed in the Carlo, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., through October 8.

Into the Woods continues at North Coast Rep.  My review is in the Journal, along with an unattractively presented October preview.

For the record, Beti Trauth reviewed HSU's Fat Pig in the Humboldt Beacon.  (A rave.) 

Friday, September 23, 2011

This North Coast Weekend

Into the Woods continues at North Coast Rep, while Fat Pig is in its final weekend at HSU's Gist Hall Theatre.

There were two reviews of Fat Pig this week: in the Lumberjack (a rave) and the Journal (a pan.)  I saw it opening night and for me it was definitely worthwhile.  I don't know any of Neil LaBute's other work, and from what I've read about it, I likely won't be seeking it out.  But I read this play several times and the writing is intriguing.  A very sparse and realistic-seeming style--it's no accident that it's dedicated to David Mamet, who early in his career wrote about people of about this age (in their 20s.) So the sound of it from this cast was interesting to me, and something of a revelation.  The actors made it their own, and made it contemporary in a way that I didn't imagine, so I learned something.

In terms of acting and production, I always discount for opening weekend a little, as a play is finding its feet and the actors are learning more about their characters and how to play them.  But from the first beat, Colleen Lacy brought her character alive, which makes the other characters possible. Kyle Ryan has the most difficult part, I thought when reading the play, and he's a gamer. He's up to the challenge. He has to keep this guy on the edge without getting shrill.  He had already found some interesting spaces and ways to explore them.  His performance is alive, and I like being there for that, even when it isn't perfect.  They all have to find a rhythm with this unusual dialogue and play.  That's intriguing. And they put the play across clearly enough to communicate it to the audience, which is their basic task.          

There was a talkback opening night, and the responses were often more about the lives of the people (mostly students) who talked, than about the play.  So they got themselves into the play and its issues, which confirmed my feeling that students are the main audience for this play.  That makes the Lumberjack review (a very rare event) especially appropriate.     

My review of Into the Woods will appear in the Journal next week.  If you like Sondheim and specifically this play, you'll probably go see it, and you should.  It seems an especially good production for children and older kids.  The performances, the basic clarity of the direction and the production, all praiseworthy.  So if you're inclined to see it, don't wait until next week for any review.  But, you know, read it afterwards. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This (and Next) North Coast Weekend

Pi Clowns--sorry I missed you guys

I'm more than a little late with this post.  Two plays opened this weekend, and fortunately they are both on stage next weekend as well.  The same can't be said for Jeff DeMark at Redwood Yogurt on Saturday night, or the Pi clowns at the Arcata Playhouse on Friday and Saturday, now past.  My apologies.  Fortunately, I included them all in my North Coast Journal column, in print and online.

Into the Woods at North Coast Rep
But: the plays, both of which I saw this past weekend.  The skinny: HSU presents Fat Pig by playwright and film director Neil LaBute for two weekends in the Gist Hall Theatre on the HSU campus. Michael Thomas directs. North Coast Repertory Theatre in Eureka opens the Stephen Sondheim musical, Into the Woods, which continues weekends through Oct. 15. Adina Lawson directs.

Fat Pig at HSU
 There's actually going to be a review of Fat Pig in the Journal this coming week, though not by me.  I'll probably offer an opinion hereabouts after it's out.  The following week, my review of Into the Woods is scheduled to appear in the Journal.  Meanwhile, you can find out more about the NCRT show at their web site, and about Fat Pig at HSU Stage & Screen.

My review of Yankee Tavern is also in the Journal this week. (Though the title should have read "Cloak & Brew" or "Cloak 'n Brew.")  At further remove I'm able to consider that play's possible metaphorical meanings, so perhaps expecting it to adhere to conventional dramatic expectations was missing the point.  But I simply didn't find it compelling, nor do I really in retrospect.  It might have been different if the script had actually offered a conspiracy theory, rather than just suggesting the government had staged the whole thing.  But then its actual story still confuses me, and I'm generally pretty good at scoping out mysteries and complex plots.  So I guess that in the end, after further review, the review stands.       

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This North Coast Weekend

Redwood Curtain takes a break from comedy to stage a contemporary thriller with political overtones and something of an ultimate in conspiracy theory: Yankee Tavern by American playwright Steven Dietz. “With its subject matter, it was a natural fit to open it right at the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” said Redwood Curtain’s Executive Director Peggy Metzger. “But I don’t want to give away any more secrets than that.” “Every one of us who read it, just could not put it down until the end,” said Artistic Director Clint Rebik.

Jyl Hewston directs a cast that includes Nathan Emmons, Jenner Cohune, Steve Carter and Victor Howard. True to its title, the play is set in a tavern, designed for this stage by Elizabeth Uhazy. Yankee Tavern previews at the Redwood Curtain Theatre in Eureka on Thursday and Friday, September 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., with the gala opening and reception on Saturday, September 10. The play continues Thursdays-Saturdays through October 1, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday September 25.