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Moral Combat: "The Best Man," at the District Theatre through November 18 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 November 2012 06:01

Jonathan Grafft, Pat Flaherty, and Matt Mercer in The Best ManAfter 12 years in the television-news business, I spent my first Election Day in more than a decade not covering the elections, but rather seeing a play about a bid for the presidency and the decision of whether to use personal attacks on opponents. And while watching the District Theatre’s The Best Man, directed by Bryan Tank, I wondered if the point being made in this political morality play – that the business of politics is on a downward moral spiral – is one that needs to be made. Don’t we, as a nation, already know that dirty politics are wrong, and doesn't this make the message of playwright Gore Vidal’s 1960 work dated? A day later, though, I read an article about personal attacks and dishonesty continuing to be a part of political campaigns because these tactics work, and so Vidal’s play, for better or worse, appears relevant after all.

 
Trapped at Home for the Holidays: "A Nice Family Gathering," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through November 18 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 12 November 2012 06:00

Christopher Tracy, Liz Blackwell, Andy Davis (standing), Gregg Neuleib, Dianna McKune, Justin Raver, and Dana Skiles in A Nice Family GatheringThree days after seeing A Nice Family Gathering at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre, I was still trying to understand the inclusion of the word “nice” in playwright Phil Olson’s title. This isn’t a feel-good, fuzzy-holiday-feelings sort of Thanksgiving play that would render the title appropriate, if clichéd. Nor is it an over-the-top, crass, outrageous comedy that makes the use of the word ironic. (Nor, for the record, is it a play about a family with the last name Nice.) I’m guessing, however, that an over-the-top, crass, outrageous comedy was Olson’s intent, given that the content of his play kind of approaches shocking, though barely.

 
Performance Anxiety: "The Actor's Nightmare," at Scott Community College through November 10 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 05 November 2012 06:00

Scott Community College presents The Actor's NightmareDuring Thursday's presentation, actor James Thames seemed out of place in Scott Community College's The Actor’s Nightmare, acting like he was acting, offering a limited range of emotions and inflections, and speaking with a note of desperation in his tone. However, his amateurish performance, whether by design or not, actually proved spot-on for this comedy in which a non-actor finds himself forced to perform roles in four plays with no prior rehearsals.

 
Carnival Cruising Lines: "The Rover," at the QC Theatre Workshop through October 28 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 22 October 2012 06:00

Diane Emmert and Jeremy Mahr in The Rover; photo by Shared Light Photography's Jessica SheridanJeremy Mahr seems to be dancing with his dialogue as Willmore, the titular character in the Prenzie Players’ The Rover. Author Aphra Behn’s words trip the light fantastic off his tongue, with Mahr presenting his rakish playboy so playfully that it's as though he’s fluent in the stylized, 17th Century language of the period. And when the meaning of what he’s saying is expressed through his entire body – particularly during Willmore's more amorous lines – the obviously fully invested Mahr is incredibly fun to watch.

 
Burning Down the House: "The Arsonists," at Augustana College through October 21 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 15 October 2012 06:00

Luke Currie, Leslie Kane, Jaylen Marks, Macy Hernandez and Elyssa Lemay (top row), and Corbin Delgado and Bill Cahill (bottom row) in The Arsonists; photo by Long NguyenDirector Jeffrey Coussens makes some beautiful choices regarding the positioning of his Greek chorus of public-safety officers in Augustana College’s The Arsonists. At different points in the play, he places this group of seven – with the character of the Policeman leading six firefighters – huddled on the stairs to the set’s attic, flanking both sides of the stage with the same legs crossed, and sitting along the front of the stage, watching the action. And their orderly placement, along with the chorus members' bright yellow uniforms, are a striking contrast to the escalating destruction that’s taking place on stage.

 
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