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Monday, December 12, 2011

A week in which I see two productions which use good strategies to overcome flawed scripts...

I wrapped up the term this past week and took advantage of the 'free-ness' to take in Wyrd Sisters at Walterdale and Fuddy Meers at the U of A. Both of these evenings were enjoyable but left me thinking. I find it's hard for me not to get somewhat analytical when watching theatre, no matter how hard I try to just be there in the audience.

I painted the set for Wyrd Sisters, but auditions for New Works and other commitments made it difficult for me to get to the show earlier in the run. I had read the play previously and knew it to be a good fit for Walterdale. That said, the script is somewhat flawed. I think, if you are a Pratchett aficionado you definitely would have less issues with the script that I did (in the same way as someone who has read The Pelican Brief can follow the movie better than someone who hasn't). So the first act has a lot of exposition that I worked hard to follow. That is all mixed up with Shakespearean references and a definite British humour that leads to general silliness. The second act, in contrast, whips along and no thinking is required! The production I felt did many great things to compensate for the weaknesses of the script - big choices, not being afraid to be ridiculous, & going for the cheap laughs - all those things helped. As well, phenomenal make-up and costumes and a bang-on set with special effects helped keep us firmly planted in the world. Best of all, my kids (7 & 10), not bothered by the need to know all the details like I was, had a wonderful time. They just went with it and proclaimed it "pretty hilarious"! Not a bad review!

Fuddy Meers had me similarly trying to understand the details in the first act. It was hard to believe that the play was written by David Lindsay-Abaire, who also wrote Rabbit Hole. The number of ridiculous details and gaping holes in the information in the first act, made it seem so very implausible. The second act, when things started to get filled in showed me a bit of the writing that I could connect to Rabbit Hole. It was an absurd little journey. This cast overcame the absurdity with 110% commitment physically, intellectually and emotionally. The brilliant momentum of the piece was maintained and even enhanced by the high energy scene changes. I cannot even explain the physical stuff... Oh to be able to jump on top of a fridge - believably! Most outstanding was Laura Metcalfe as Claire. It is her journey the audience goes on and as she seems to be entertained by it all in the first act, so are we, and as she becomes more and more disturbed by what she learns in the second act, so do we. A luminous performance.

Next I shall be taking in some of the snow globe festival. I will probably not be seeing a 'grown-up play' until the new year!

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