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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Love and Whispers...

Hard to believe, but after spending so much time this week in a theatre shepherding my son, I still managed to see two more shows this weekend. I was tired, but glad to catch more of the fabulous theatre we are fortunate to have in Edmonton.

Friday night I worked coffee bar at Walterdale for their current production The Love of the Nightingale directed by Alex Hawkins. The play is a dramatization of the story of sisters Procne and Philomele. I enjoyed reading the script and it was interesting seeing it brought to life onstage. The production is carefully directed and the subtle sound design by Erin Foster-O'Riordan gives it momentum in it's silences. The costumes by Geri Dittrich are wonderful and lush and bare skin abounds! Rachel Kent, as Philomele, is luminous and in the first act my favorite scenes are between her and the doomed ship's captain, Kevin Oulette. In the second act, however, it is the fiery Procne, played by Marsha Amanova, who pulled me in. Justin Deveau also delivers a solid performance as her husband, Tereus. If the idea of a piece of Greek theatre scares you, it shouldn't. The story is clearly told and has humour to offset the tragedy.

Tonight, my sister and brother and I managed to catch Whisper, the final Studio Theatre production for the current U of A BFA graduating class. The project was a collaboration between Catalyst Theatre's Jonathon Christensen and Bretta Gerecke and the class itself. Titled Whisper, the text came from the students and were whispered to each other in translation through a classmate counterpart to the audience. A significant portion of the piece dealt with the recent death of a classmate and it is this portion which has the most impact. The production is skillfully delivered and conceptually complex with amazing lighting and score, however, a lack of variance in delivering the stories and remembrances made it feel a bit too long. As well, no matter how gorgeous the stage images were I never quite got the purpose of the deer like creatures and hunters in the woods. It is clear that this is a class with talent and a team with strong vision, but some more thought to story arc and playing more with the whispers themselves might have created more engagement, especially for those in the audience who were not familiar with the class itself and it's recent history. Personally, I felt that if they had either focussed more on their classmate (by cutting some of the script) or less on their clasmate (by shifting weight to a more defined arc to show growth or change) then the piece would have been stronger. Alternatively, they could have found different ways than just standing and whispering to relay the story. When the background was supported by action/dance/images it was stronger, as the pauses in relaying the stories slowed the pace in an already long show.

In any case, I feel full of theatre. It's a nice feeling. Tomorrow I have auditions for Nine at Walterdale. I am excited to see who is coming out. Soon we will be in rehearsal!

* These are #15 and #16 in my 2012 Theatre Goal!

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