Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Weavers"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Carl A. Rossi


"THE WEAVERS"

by Gerhart Hauptmann
translated by Frank Marcus
directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

Heide / Old Hilse … Chris Bannow
Young Weaver / Weinhold … Kevin Bigger
Mother Baumert / Weaver … Alexis Bloom
Traveling Salesman / Weaver … Geoff Borman
Office Boy / Johann … Victoria Bucknell
Dressinger … Jeremy Cohn
Frau Heinrich / Weaver … Julia Garcia Combs
Pfeifer / Weigand … Jack Corcoran
August Baumert / Heiber … John Diket
Peasant / Weaver … Felicity Doyle
Weaver Woman … Betsy Drake-Studstill
Welzel / Pastor Kittelhaus … James Fouhey
Mother Hilse / Weaver … Jessica Kochu
Frau Kittelhuas … Rachel Lambert
Bertha Baumert / Mielchen / Weaver … Blair Lewin
Old Baumert … Rey Lopez
Reimann / Kutsche / Weaver … Becca Lustgarten
Moritz Jaeger … Alex Mickiewicz
Forester / Schmidt / Weaver … Julia Miller
Baecker … Michael Moran
Frau Welzel / Weaver … Rosine Moss
Emma Baumert / Weaver … Rachel Park
Old Wittig / Weaver … Sam Perry
Frau Dreissiger … Michelle Poynton
Hornig … David Rosenblatt
Ansorge … Tim Spears
Luise Hilse / Weaver … Annette Stephens
Neumann / Gottlieb Hilse … Bryce Townsend
Anna Welzel / Servant Girl / Weaver

These continue to be budget-conscious theatre-days with one-person shows and minimal casts and yet Boston’s Zeitgeist Stage Company recently tucked twenty-three actors into the Black Box Theatre for THE KENTUCKY CYCLE and Jamaica Plain’s Footlight Club grooved with HAIR’s twenty-one bodies “walking in space” --- Boston University currently boasts a body count of twenty-nine with its student production of Gerhart Hauptmann’s THE WEAVERS (1892), based upon the 1844 rebellion of the Silesian peasants against their cruel masters. I read THE WEAVERS in college, three decades ago, and thought it dense and lengthy at the time (one needs a scorecard to keep track of who’s who); seeing it, now, I can better appreciate Mr. Hauptmann’s groundbreaking naturalism, his pre-cinematic long-shots of the masses, and his close-ups such as the finale of one human-tree falling in the collective forest, so akin to the later poignancy of Firs’ fate in THE CHERRY ORCHARD.

THE WEAVERS’s colors are primal; its instruments, percussion and brass, and Elaine Vaan Hogue masterfully conducts, throughout, so that one never misses strings or woodwinds. Her cast’s still-green energy goes hand-in-glove with the characters’ bluntness though Sasha Richter has dressed the downtrodden as Mozart’s Papageno and Papagena, and there seems to be a contest over who can be the most gnarly in posture and strangulated in voice (the evening begins with peasants miming their plight throughout the auditorium --- their plight; my warm-up exercises); elsewhere, Ms. Richter is spot-on: two bourgeois wives’ pigeon-grey hoop skirts, for example, distinctly nail them to the mid-19th century; even a walk-on maid has the proper lace cap with its ends trailing behind her ears…

But, again, the sheer marvel of twenty-nine bodies moving like clockwork, and on one stage, too, the standouts being Chris Bannow and Jessica Kochu in the plum roles of Old Hilse and his blind wife, Alex Mickiewicz’s slim but strapping Jaeger (the closest thing to an individual hero), Tim Spear’s scruffy, operatic Ansorge who, amazingly, never goes over the top; and Geof Borman as a sleek, dandified Traveling Salesman. Out of these twenty-nine students, how many shall remain in the Boston area? How many shall switch Beans for Apples or Oranges? Either way, the future is theirs if not Boston’s, as well.

"The Weavers" (6-16 December)
BOSTON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS / SCHOOL OF THEATRE
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 933-8600

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

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