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Farce to Be Reckoned With: "Figaro," at Augustana College through October 27 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - 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
Theatre - 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.

 
Acting in a Suspicious Manor: "The Mousetrap," at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through October 13 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - 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.

 
Upsetting the Apple Cart: "The Agony & the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," at the District Theatre through October 13 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 07 October 2013 06:00

Ed Villarreal in The Agony & the Ecstasy of Steve JobsEd Villarreal deserves plenty of props for successfully completing a 90-minute monologue without any noticeable flubs – and with a few audience-specific ad libs – during Friday’s performance of The Agony & the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at the District Theatre. Memorizing and delivering an hour-and-a-half’s worth of text is no small feat, let alone delivering it with the inflections and nuance that Villarreal does.

 
Parent 'Hood: "Things My Mother Taught Me," at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through November 2 PDF Print E-mail
Theatre - Reviews
Written by Thom White   
Monday, 30 September 2013 06:00

Daniel Crary and Cara Chumbley in Things My Mother Taught MeThe Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse’s Things My Mother Taught Me, which is about a young New York couple moving into a new apartment in Chicago, is one of those plays that requires patience, as the first half of the first act takes a while to get on its feet and bring in the humor. While Brad Hauskins’ Polish building superintendent Max elicited hearty laughs during Friday's performance through the actor's adept comic delivery and (eventually overused) “Uh-oh”s, not much else, early on, was all that effectively funny. Until, that is, the parents of the cohabitating Olivia and Gabe arrived, at which point it was clear that director Warner Crocker’s pacing for the rest of the show was going to be remarkable, and the comedic chaos amplified by the play's four parents fussing over their children.

 
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