note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey
Not one note is out of place in New Repertory Theatre’s OPUS, playing in virtuoso style through April 17th. Michael Hollinger’s canny play about the trials and tribulations of a string quartet crackles with backstage intrigue---and even delivers a nifty surprise, not to mention a hilarious coda.
You don’t have to know Beethoven’s catalogue for the comedy-drama to work on you. Hollinger presents these musicians as people, just like the rest of us --- that is, when they’re not performing at the White House.
Temperaments differ, allegiances shift, and tempers flare. We’re witness to the Sturm und Drang and we laugh at the squabbles, thanks to Hollinger’s stellar ear for smart dialogue. Like a quartet, director Jim Petosa’s cast shine as individuals and blend seamlessly into the ensemble.
Michael Kay is marvelously infuriating as the prissy leader of the pack, given to pronouncements like “We can play it your way…or Beethoven’s way.” Benjamin Evett is thoroughly convincing as the genius “visionary,” prone to fugue states un-musical in nature. Shelley Bolman and Bates Wilder portray the cooler heads in the group…until that balance, too, is shaken. Becky Webber fairly glows as the fresh faced charmer who throws her lot in with these wild, fascinating men.
Hollinger’s deft, little play is remarkably well written and extremely well played (dramatically and musically) by New Rep, from the strings which hold firm Cristina Todesco’s concert stage set to the strings plucked in perfect time by the actors.