Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Dead Men Walking"

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entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"Dead Men Walking"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Friar's Cell, student run theatre at Providence College presents three one act plays called "Dead Men Walking" as the final production of their season. The three shows are about dead painters, a dead bus driver and a man who wants to be dead making an appropriate title for the evening of theatre. The three Senior student directors, Meghan T. Kelly, Matt Duchnowski and Jessica Tabak tackle their jobs with the ease of seasoned veterans using excellent direction and blocking in their segments. Their graduation will leave a void in the theatre department but each of them is destined for bigger and better things in the future. All the students working on stage and backstage have pulled these shows off and deserve abig round of applause for their dedication to their craft.

The first show is an original piece called "Artistic License" written by Pat Collins ' 99 and takes place in a bar. Dead painters are the patrons sitting at the four tables. A couple enters nnot recognizing the bartender or the patrons. A discussion ensues where they meet Picasso, Manet, Van Gogh and Andy Warhol. A woman enters the bar suppossedly the model for Manet's painting, throws water in the man's face and leaves. The moral of the story is the painting's are in the eye of the beholder, painters have artistic license to paint things as they see fit. Meghan directs the 8 performers very well in this original play making each of the painters distinct from the others. The young couple, Vito Salm and Kate Meola are very strong actors and play their confused roles very well. Istvan Teleki plays the bartender who mixes drinks before you ask for them. Chris Deely makes the womanizing Picasso, a sleazy pig while Pete Brodbeck presents his paintin of a prostitute in a courtly manner. Pat Ferrucci as the bandaged eared, Van Gogh lives to paint not make money but get paid with a bottle of wine while Stephan Pollack plays the over the top Andy Warhol complete with white fright wig and camera. Kate Cheely rounds out the cast as the French model of Manet who is insulted when the man thinks she is a whore. Copies of their paintings are lit up behind them as they talk to the couple. A well directed and acted play, stage managed by the talented Courtney Cullinan working backstage this time.

The second one act is "The Dead Man is the Bus Driver" written and directed by Matt. Not only does he show he can write and direct a show, he is a multitalented actor handling comic and dramatic roles handily. Matt sets his play in the 1950's at a bus stop. A dead man lies in the road as three passengers and a policewoman show up there. Matt shows man's inhumanity to their fellow human beings by the callous behavior of Earl ( Steve Rennau) who reads his newspaper ignoring the body and the indifference of Betty (Julia Barrett) clad a loud red plaid jacket. The only one who cares is Henry (Michael Propster) who takes pity on the deadman in the gutter. He finally calls a cop (Katie McBrine) who shows she doesn't care either at show's end by stealing the dead man's wallet which Earl had wanted to swipe in the first place before Henry stops him. These four students turn a tragic situation into a funny one by their comic delivery, facial expressions and acting ability. Even though it is set in the fifties, the situation is just as identifiable now as it was then. Senior Jim Kalagher, another talented actor, stage manages Matt's humorous original piece. (The dead person also deserves a round of applause for staying still in one postition for such a long time.)

The final show of the night is Edward Albee's "The Zoo Story". Jessica takes this difficult and wordy show making it flow smoothly with just the right transitions and finding the right level to make it work. She makes the actors use the entire set so the play never stagnates for a split second. The show takes place in Central Park. It is about two men, one who is marrried, has a good job in a publishing company and the other a tragic figure drained of all hope. Albee's dialogue is frightening at times and you think you know where it is headed but it has an ironic twist at the end that shocks the audience. The show is a mixture of funny moments that turns into a dramatic one very quickly but while remaining beliviable, too. The two tremendously talented Seniors in this show are Brendan LeFebvre as the distrubed Jerry and Patrick Cohen as the put upon listener, Peter. Brendan has massive amounts of dialogue which just roll off his tongue splendidly. His character is like a caged animal pacing back and forth and all around. Brendan delivers the goods making the ending a dramatic moment to savor and remember for a long time to come. Patrick has grown as an actor from the first time I saw him on stage to this current role. He plays the older man perfectly, listening to the deranged younger man's every word. Patrick makes Peter a calm person until he finally explodes by Jerry's taunts and insults. He makes this newly tortured man into a real person doing very good stage work in this role. Elisha Moxley is Jessica's able stage manager. Great job to all especially the seniors in your final show at PC. Keep in touch next year with all you are doing including your show biz work. Just keep me updated at ( Best of luck and break a leg in your future endeavors!

"Dead Men Walking" (till 29 April)
Providence College, River Ave.and Eaton Street, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
1(401) 865-2218

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide