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River Cities' Reader | Theatre
Secrets and Lies: "Other Desert Cities," at the Village Theatre through October 27 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 21 October 2013 06:00

Jared Svoboda, Tracy Pelzer-Timm, Pat Flaherty, and Susan Perrin-Sallak in Other Desert CitiesWhile leaving Friday’s performance of Other Desert Cities, a friend told me that he thought it was the best play he’d seen by New Ground Theatre, and I agreed that, if not the best, it is at least among the best productions by the local company. Director David Turley’s staging of playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s smart, realistic dialogue and intriguing storyline has a tremendous palpability to it, both in the family dynamics of those on-stage and in the tensions and emotions they feel.

 
Farce to Be Reckoned With: "Figaro," at Augustana College through October 27 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 21 October 2013 06:00

Leslie Kane and Joshua Pride in Figaro (photo by Daisy Hoang, Augustana Photo Bureau)Augustana College’s Figaro is a fine example of how witty, self-referential humor makes for a better farce than does banal innuendo and silly, unrealistic door slamming. Playwright Charles Morey’s recent adaptation of Pierre Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro (written in 1778) is sharply funny, filled with references to Beaumarchais’ original trilogy (“It would take an Italian opera to describe [the plot.]”) and digs at the rich (“How clever of you, sir, to be rich rather than smart.”) There’s still sexual innuendo and slamming doors, but Morey’s script is so much quick-paced, pointedly humorous fun that the two-hour presentation rises above the level of most bedroom farce, especially considering that this production is populated by such a well-cast ensemble.

 
Let Your Freak Flag Fly: "The Elephant Man," at Scott Community College through October 26 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 21 October 2013 06:00

Austin Stone and James Thames in The Elephant ManScott Community College’s heart-tugging production of playwright Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man is truly touching, with much of the credit for Thursday’s emotion going to James Thames' portrayal of the titular character. While director Steve Flanigin does not use makeup to make Thames look like the real Joseph Merrick – who lived during the late 19th Century and who, for still-unknown reason, was deformed with what looked like gargantuan warts on his head, shoulder, torso, legs, and right arm – Thames manages to successfully depict physical abnormality by way of constantly holding his mouth to the right side of his face, even while speaking. Through the course of Merrick's existence from sideshow freak to hospital resident to friend of high-society England, it’s Thames’ unassuming nature and gentle speech, as filtered through his deformed face, that make his Merrick so heartbreaking and pitiable.

 
The Demon Between Your Ears: "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," November 3 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 17 October 2013 06:00

T Bone Burnett, John Mellencamp, and Stephen KingStephen King. John Mellencamp. T Bone Burnett.

Three instantly recognizable names. Three iconic artists with enormous fan bases and lengthy lists of professional accomplishments. And, taken together, three of the last people you might expect to find collaborating on a musical for the stage.

 
Acting in a Suspicious Manor: "The Mousetrap," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through October 13 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 07 October 2013 06:00

Stan Weimer, John VanDeWoestyne, Bryan Woods, and Spiro Bruskas in The MousetrapThe Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's The Mousetrap is a reasonably entertaining presentation of author Agatha Christie’s material. There were plenty of good laughs during Thursday’s performance, and director Gary Clark and his cast did well in not giving away what’s known as “the best kept secret in theatre” until its final reveal – that secret being the identity of a London murderer who is now, very likely, among the guests in the newly opened Monkswell Manor boarding house.

 
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