Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's An Actors' Play

Someone has broken into an office and stolen some real estate leads and it was an inside job by someone. With this somewhat simple premise David Mamet writes great raw dialogue for the common man. The common actor. Fast and dirty. Full of anger and void of conscious. What’s underneath? This is an actors’ play and you would be hard pressed to find a tighter group of seven men on stage right now. Each actor discovers their part through the power of their craftsmanship. Each has a story to tell both personally and related to the play/stage. Sometimes the personal pain is not as rich and raw as their anger. Could they have gone deeper? I think so. Two acting standouts were the Lexington veteran Robert Parks Johnson (welcome back) and a somewhat new voice Evan Bergman. They make two parts of the seven piece ensemble and as a group and individually they deliver.

Personally, I’ve always felt Act I runs in one light and not three scenes. Separate but woven together. Some have pieced the Act together as if each vignette was happening at the same time. I want to learn more about all these characters before their scene, during their scene and after their scene. Watching Lingk drink for an hour might persuade the audience differently than him drinking for fifteen minutes.

(Side note…. One of the worst productions I ever saw just happened to be Glengarry Glen Ross. The actors remained seated the whole time, except to enter or exit, and I think they had their scripts with them on stage.)

Running late, I chose the seats in front of the speaker. So Act I was a battle for me at times to hear. Hushed private moments on any stage need volume. Plus, was the music in the Chinese restaurant a soundtrack for the play? It was distracting. Were the songs and their words important? Was that Sting singing? An idea with too much thought where that energy could have been used elsewhere. Proper sound equipment with a designer or an engineer would be a great improvement in the future.
Three technical aspects of any play include personal (costume and makeup), environmental (set, properties and lighting) and sound (effects and music). They were individually present but not effective as a whole. Set Designer? We’ve got props, lighting, sound and costumes. And a carpenter. Everyone accomplished their part but where is the cohesion? On their own they didn’t make sense. Not that a Set Designer would have solved all the problems but after 27 years we have expectations. If the director can not pull all these elements together then a third eye is needed to help influence time, period, color and space. One compliments the other and creates the whole.

I’d say the audience and myself enjoyed the performances. They are great. But as a play and a production? It's an actor's play.

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