Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Native Son -Intiman

Intiman Theater
Through September 19th

Richard Wright's classic piece of African-American literature struggled through many trials and tribulations to come to life for audiences of Seattle at the Intiman Theater. After losing the rights to the originally planned script, director Kent Gash gained rights to the original Richard Wright and Paul Green play and adapted it for the current run in under three weeks. Bringing together an amazing cast surrounded by a beautiful set and lifted up by incredible music, this play will have everyone examining the foundations of our culture.

Kent Gash's direction and adaptation of this book made play are a testament to his skill. Though much of the tension of the novel is lost due to time constraints in a stage form of this story, the fear, flight and fate (the three main themes of the novel) are clearly present. Every vital event, character and interaction is present in this adaptation. Gash's direction of the play comes together beautifully and naturally. The scary thing is that there is nothing unnatural about this play. Every event and action seems completely feasible and factual.

Ato Essandoh (Bigger Thomas) brings to life a magnificent character. His stage presence shines above the play as a personal torch to light the way of Wright's meaning through his story. He is supported by strong cast including Richard Kline (Mr. Max) and Felicia V Loud (Vera Thomas and Bessie).

Chic Street Man's musical composition is a subtle and impressive addition. Bringing a new almost cinematic perspective to the play, his musical stylings augment the time period, emotion and plot of the play.

Though not a must-see, definitely a recommended production. Though it only runs for the remainder of this week, I highly suggest seeing it if possible.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thom Pain (based on nothing) - Seattle Repertory Theater

Seattle Repertory Theater
October 5 - November 5, 2006
See website and box office for tickets

Thom Pain (based on nothing)
is the closest approximation that anyone could make to what this play entails. Quite literally, there is Thom Pain on stage and the play is based on nothing. However, nothing becomes much deeper when Thom begins to alter our perceptions about the world and imagination. He takes us on a journey that doesn't conclude until he feels like he's done talking and when he's done, he's done.

Will Eno's play Thom Pain (based on nothing) is an interesting investigation of introspection and perceptions about the world. Once the play has concluded, the audience is left wondering about every aspect of the world and wanting to reach out and grab life by the horns. Despite its inspirational overtones, it pushes these emotions too forcefully. Eno seems to be throwing all of his psychological and introspective thought into the audiences face as fast as possible and with no continuity. Though a play with "based on nothing" in the title should be somewhat disjointed, Eno seems more confused than artistically and pointedly disjointed. Therefore, the play is somewhat hard to follow and certainly seems to have its own agenda that the audience is not entirely a part of.

Todd Jefferson Moore puts forth a forceful and impressive performance in this short one-man production. He carries all of the emotional and social insecurities and baggage of a naive child bewildered by death and puberty, a forlorn lover lost in the world and an aspiring conversationalist with a passionate dislike for magic. Moore, as has been proven in the past, holds audiences captive in the palm of his hand for the entire performance and never once lets them down.

Jerry Manning's direction for this production is impressive to say the least. To push a one-man existentialist introspection on stage into an entertaining spectacle with no effects or stage magic, or even a set for that matter, is an incredible feat. Manning pulls it off with grace and dignity along side with Moore's unmatchable acting prowess.

Thom Pain (based on nothing) is an entertaining show but somewhat difficult to follow and certainly takes a lot of energy on the audience's part in order to catch even a drift of Eno's intent.