Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Lady From Dubuque - Seattle Repertory Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre
Runs January 11 - February 10, 2007
Tickets Online or by phone at 206-443-2222

The ultra naturalism of Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque floors the audience with a terribly tense situation of friends and enemies disguised as whatever the others decide that they are while everyone accepts the fact that no one is happy with one another, yet no one tries to change anything. As Sam (Charlie Matthes) and his wife Jo (Carla Harting) attempt to entertain their friends, everyone's not-so-well-hidden hatred of each other comes out in frighteningly accurage gushes. Jo's experience, however, is much more viceral as will be shown throught the duration of the production.

Edward Albee's script is a remarkably precise depiciton of pseudo-friends pretending not to hate each other while trying to play trivial drinking games during a tense night of inevitable drunken outbursts that had previously only minimally been held back. The truth of the lines and the truth in the delivery of them on the part of the actors brings this play to a kind of life that is rarely seen on the stage. David Esbjornson's direction electrifies this play with simple honesty. After directing Tony Award-winning The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, The Play About the Baby and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (all by Edward Albee), his experience with the naturalistic honesty of Albee's writing is very evident and appreciated.

Elizabeth Hope Clancy's costumes with set and lights by (respectively) John Arnone and James F. Ingalls give a somewhat sterilized hospital-like feeling to the environment while popping each character out of the simple world of the set with very specific costumes. The use of certain colors can be followed throughout the play as a constant theme (such as the use of pink and white) and the very subtle changes in the lighting, though nearly imperseptible, give the play a very at-home feeling, adding greatly to the realism of the performance.

Carla Harting and Charlie Matthes Photo by Chris Bennion 2007

Myra Carter, playing Elizabeth, and Frank X, playing Oscar, leap forth from the unknown outside world of The Lady From Dubuque in the transition from Act one to Act two. Their outlandish lines may confuse at first, but once one begins to see their identities, one can begin to see their honesty. Carla Harting as Jo and Charlie Matthes as Sam also stand out a great deal in their portrayal of the struggle against time. Fighting to go in different directions, their battle against the unstoppable inevitabile is both painful and breattaking to witness.

If you're feeling like seeing a play that will make you think hard and will show you all of the hidden truths that we've all felt about some of the people in our lives, then The Lady from Dubuque is the one to see.

Review by Nigel Andrews

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