Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Great Divorce -- Taproot Theatre Company

Nathan Jeffrey, Pam Nolte, and David Dorrian (L-R). Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

The Great Divorce
Taproot Theatre Company
January 27- February 27 2010
Tickets and Information

C.S. Lewis is known to many as the author of the beloved Narnia series, but his writings extended far beyond that. Lewis, a devout Christian, wrote many treatises, fables, essays and books on religious themes, using his considerable talent with words and imagery to unfold his ideas. The Great Divorce, adapted for the stage by George Drance and the Magis Theatre, is one such book: Lewis' dreamlike adventure on a bus ride though Hell and Heaven and what he observes there.

The Great Divorce is less a straightforward story, and more a theatrical meditation, a collection of meetings and moments strung together by Lewis' narration and his constant wonder at the strange place he is now in. The play manages to be highly philosophical and fantastical, without losing what makes each vignette work: the connection between human beings, and the sincere desire of each denizen of heaven to bring everyone else up to heaven with them.

Jenny Cross and Candance Vance (L-R). Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

Director Scott Nolte's staging of the play has a measured pace, giving the audience ample time to truly understand the sometimes complex theology surrounding them. David Dorrian, as our narrator C.S Lewis, carries the backbone of the show, but it is the ensemble around him that creates the swirling energy of the piece. Each plays multiple characters ranging from gray ghosts to lively angels and every kind of human in between, and each new turn is fresh and clear.

Mark Lund's set opens backwards into archways that suggest wide spaces beyond, inviting the audience as well as the characters. Window panes play host to Jody Briggs' gorgeous light design, which conveys dawning mornings and muddy streets alike. Sarah Burch Gordon's costumes bring us a new level of the story, from her carefully nuanced grays and tweeds of the early ghost people to the bright contrasting colors of the heaven dwellers.

Taproot's swift turnaround from the fire of October 2009 is a testament to the great support offered by the community, and the theater's space now looks shiny and clean, though still as cozy as ever. But what is most important is that the caliber of theater offered by Taproot remains high, and that their 2010 season has opened well. The Great Divorce is not a play for everyone; those looking for a rollicking escape from daily life would do well to search elsewhere. But for an evening of thinking theater, of a play that presses your philosophical opinions and gently offers new ways of thought, Taproot's show never once missteps.

Review by Kenna Kettrick

1 comment:

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Someone told me that Lewis literature is astonishing. I want to get my hands on one of his books or his writings.