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Theatre
Civil Union: "The Chronicles of Lincoln & Grant," at the District Theatre through May 26 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 21 May 2012 06:00

Tom Swenson and Daniel Ferguson Haughey in The Chronicles of Lincoln and GrantThe District Theatre’s The Chronicles of Lincoln & Grant is an historical account of the Civil War from the perspectives of two of the country’s leaders: President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant. However, instead of discussing events from the actual war (though they occasionally do), the characters in this two-person play mostly share stories of their personal experiences leading up to, during, and following the war.

 
Atlantic Overtures: "Titanic Aftermath," at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre through May 20 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 06:00

Byran Woods, Angela Rathman, Stephanie Moeller, Randy Pribyl, Mollie Schmelzer, Faith Hardacre, and Mike Kelly in Titanic AftermathDirector Paul Workman deserves high praise for making the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s Titanic Aftermath at all watchable, particularly as the boat is sinking in the second act. Throughout Friday’s performance, I kept thinking that playwright Michael Wehrli’s script was a fantastic historical account, but also kept wondering, “Why is it a stage play?” With so much action described, and so little played out visually, especially during the first act, this piece might as well be a radio drama, or the script for a documentary on the Titanic. As a theatrical production, however, Wehrli's work is … well, rather boring.

 
Green Elevator: "The Guardian," at the Village Theatre through May 20 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 14 May 2012 06:00

Gage McCalester, Adam Mohr, and Lilo Foster in The GuardianI was willing to give the Internet Players’ The Guardian a lot of leeway, accepting playwright Kevin Straus’ presentation for what it is: A morality tale of environmental responsibility. While watching Thursday’s performance, I could forgive Straus his plot holes and unnatural dialogue because the author managed to discuss responsible green living with no detectable attitudes of intellectual and moral superiority. And Straus had me ... until the interpretive dance in the middle of the second act.

 
One Story, Many Voices: Disaster Tales Are Shared in "Titanic Aftermath," May 11 through 20 at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 07 May 2012 06:00

Titanic Aftermath ensemble membersAs Oregon-based playwright Michael Wehrli is the author of Titanic Aftermath – the historical drama being staged at Moline’s Playcrafters Barn Theatre May 11 through 20 – I initially presume that he’s seen James Cameron’s Oscar-winning movie. In our April 25 phone interview, he tells me he has, and that it was even the inspiration for his play.

That’s not exactly the compliment it might seem, though, considering he calls Cameron’s Titanic “visually stunning and incredibly, maddeningly frustrating because of the fictional characters.

“I mean, they took up half the story,” says Wehrli of the young lovers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, “and it was the actual survivors’ stories, to me, that were ... interesting. That, and the corporate-negligence side to the tragedy, which is hardly ever addressed in dramatic form.

“So I thought, ‘All right, well, I’m just going to write a play about all this.’” Wehrli laughs. “‘How the hell do I do that?’”

 
Torture Chamber Play: " The Pillowman," at the District Theatre through May 12 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 30 April 2012 06:01

Jason Platt, Dexter Brigham, and Matt Mercer in The PillowmanOn Thursday, the District Theatre debuted a most admirable, impressive production of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, a play boasting numerous surprises both major and minor. Yet if the reactions of a few of the evening’s audience members are to be trusted, it might be necessary to spoil a few right off the bat.

 
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