Sunday, September 16, 2012


I Hate Theatre....

I guess if you are still thinking & talking about a production afterwards the producers, director, cast and crew have done their job. Good or bad. I have never experienced this script before but knew the storyline and found it intriguing. Personally, it was not gritty or dirty enough. My skin did not crawl. I left thirsty. Something left me bugged about Bug playing locally at the Balagula Theatre. Call it differences in acting styles, the clash of those styles, or the inability to bond those styles into one common thread. Good or bad?

Curtain. When one has open minutes alone on stage you better hit the basics. Who, what, when, where, etc. We should learn a lot about Agnes, Rachel Rogers, in those opening moments. The tech/light glitch might have thrown her off. You know you are in trouble when the actor is more concerned in finding her placement in the doorway than playing within the drunken moment. Worried about the picture and not the story. The self has gotten in the way. And Peter, Zachery Dearing’s one note performance leaves nowhere to grow and expand through this delusional world. You need an overflow of emotions and layers for this play.There are some great moments but some are rushed and we do not get the build or the layers that explains the pain and hurt these characters are facing and creating. They don't mesh. They clash.

The internal character transitions, getting from point A to point B, are missing in part. Clearly, the big moments have been identified but you just do not get there without some traveling, building, and foreshadowing. Paranoia, fear, control, loneliness, on stage all are knots. Show me how you tied that knot. Again, I think this is conflict of individual styles and not brought under control and managed by the director’s eye. Flat responses to open ended questions do not progress the action or the story. You have so much more to tell us about the story and your character. Some might blame the set or the space. I fault the blocking.

The stage space at Balagula is tight and small. Positive or negative? I like actors that eat their scenery, know their space and the environment. Play in it and play with it.  Why was the ex-husband Goss more comfortable in the space than Agnes who lived there? Was it hot and uncomfortable before you turned on the air conditioning? I did not see that. You just had some stage direction to turn the a/c on which you accomplished. The set should make a statement and compliment the play, tell us something about the characters, create an environment, give the actors a reason to play. Generally, I am getting tired of incomplete sets and shotty craftsmanship. One production, somewhere else in Lexington, left me so bored I was counting all the woodscrews holding the flats together. I guess there was no time for wood filler or tape and paint to cover the magic of that less than professional set. Attention is in the details.

I have seen more complicated technical shows at Balagula with more sound and light ques with complex changes and transitions. Maybe it was my seat in the house but why was the sound of the phone-ringing coming from the air conditioner and not from the phone itself across the room? Light glitches in the opening really? I know, I know it’s live theatre and anything can happen and usually does. But Bug seems like a technically easy show and the crew needs to be as prepared as the actors are. Maybe more. I am assuming the actors don’t drink before and during the show and maybe that is a good rule for the tech crew. And what was that spider web radar-tracking ring above the stage? Sorry, I didn’t get it. Save that money for the set which the audience and cast are involved in and not a ceiling cover. And those posts? Embrace the posts. Use the posts. Some shows at Balagula have used them effectively. Those that don’t immediately create an obstacle.
Lastly on the set and the artistic design. Just plain flat. No detail. No finish. This set had two walls. One can explain away the third wall, but what about the fourth wall? Yes, that wall. The fourth wall. I might have seen two or three brief moments played with and to the fourth wall. Why were the actors afraid to use the fourth wall? I fault the blocking.

So overall it is a good show with a relevant script worth seeing. I’m not a reviewer or a master of the critique but I like good theatre and I want to see local actors, directors, producers, and designers doing their best. Polished, in tune, in the moment playing the moment. Characters void of self but full of emotion and thought. Well rounded theatre with an edge and a bite.
But, I really do hate curtain speeches and theatre.



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