Friday, October 16, 2009

Rock n' Roll - ACT

Rock n’ Roll

ACT – A Contemporary Theatre

October 15 – November 8, 2009

Tickets and Information

As an American city born and bred for musical explosions and dissension, Seattle holds the torch high for her citizens who understand the sentiment of the sixties and seventies. The anti-war demonstrations, the concerts in any available space, the free love and rebellion wave that crashed on the shores of the west coast and soaked every city in one way or another from Seattle to Nantucket. However, take Czechoslovakia and England at the same time and you might tend to overlook the surf of the American wave in the tsunami crashing down on Europe. Total social upheaval, the founding of a politically and socially new way of thinking, let alone living, and all of it encapsulated in some way by the music. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Stoppard’s Rock n’ Roll.

Matthew Floyd Miller and Jessica Martin. Photo by Chris Bennion, 2009.

Kurt Beattie’s production of Stoppard’s astoundingly philosophical and political drama is a thick production that ought to be seen, read, seen again and discussed if at all possible. The play spans thirty years in the lives of several rebels and philosophers in Europe from the sixties to the early nineties in just ten minutes shy of three hours. Make no mistake: this is a challenging play that cannot be taken lightly and, incidentally, should not be missed.

Rock n’ Roll, as the title suggests, is driven by the music that drove the thinkers in their time. Matthew Floyd Miller brilliantly embodies the character Jan (pronounced like YAWN) in this essential manner. On the other side of the coin, Anne Allgood plays Eleanor and the adult Esme (pronounced like S-MET) with such heartbreaking passion as would make the stones weep. Along with Miller and Allgood is an absolutely outstanding cast of some of Seattle’s finest actors.

Behind the scenes, much work must be done on a show such as this. With a full half-page of the program dedicated to music credits, Brendan Patrick Hogan (sound design) had his work cut out for him and excels beyond expectation. Similarly, Kurt Beattie had no easy task laid out for him in directing such an ambitious piece. Not to put too fine a point on it, the script can easily read as an historical account of opposing philosophies that happens to be written in intensely passionate and clever dialogue. It takes a strong director with an energetic, intelligent and intensely dedicated cast to take a piece like Rock n’ Roll and bring it to life as Beattie and the cast and crew of this production do.

Rock n’ Roll truly is a spectacular show that will not come around often. Its relevance to our current political and socio-economic situation is irrefutable and, therefore, lends itself well to the zeitgeist we all currently share. Brush up on your Marx and Pink Floyd and put your thinking caps on because it is, very much so, a wild ride.

Review by Andrew J. Perez

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