Theatre Mirror Reviews - "SURreal Life"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


"SURreal Life"

Scene Paining by Marchann Sinatra & Treather Gassman
Technical Director Ryan Ide
Production Assistant Page J. Lussier
Music/Sound Design by David Farewell
Drummer Peter Himmer
Production Stage Manager Julie Ahern
House Manager Liz Kurtz

"Home Section"

by Janusz Glowacki
Directed by Danielle L. Didio

Olek................................Dan Zisson
Witek...........................Michael Lane
Playwright...................Paul Ricciardi

"Sandalwood Box"

by Mac Wellman
Directed by John Herring

Voice of Marsha.............Tori Davis
Marsha...........................Anna Pond
Claudia......................Hilary Fabre
Chorus
Bethany Colburn, Michelle Martin, George O'Connor

"Naomi in The Living Room"

by Christopher Durang
Directed by Michael Lane

Naomi.........Danielle Fauteux Jacques
John..................................Dan Zisson
Johnna...............................Tori Davis

"Humulus The Mute"

by Jean Anouilh
Directed by Michael Lane

Duchess...........................................Eric Werner
Hector............................................John Herring
Maids
Treather Gassmann, Bethany Colburn, Michelle Martin
Tutor............................................Paul Ricciardi
Humulus......................Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Helene..............................................Anna Pond

"The Wedding on The Eiffel Tower"

by Jean Cocteau
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Phonograph 1............................................Brian McNeany
Phonograph 2................................................Michael Lane
Ostrich/Lion/Dove.........................................John Herring
Hunter...................................................George O'Connor
Telegram/Cyclist/Bathing Beauty......................Anna Pond
Manager of The Eiffel Tower...........................Dan Zisson
Photographer...........................................Bethany Colburn
Groom............................................................Eric Werner
Usher...........................................................Paul Ricciardi
General................................................Treather Gassmann
Bridesmaid.............................................Marchann Sinatra
Bride........................................................Michelle Martin
Child......................................................Vladimir Aseneta
Telegram/Art Dealer......................................Hilary Fabre
Telegram/Art Collector.....................................Tori Davis


TheatreZone's artistic director, Danielle Fauteux Jacques, has managed to keep a core company through several plays now, and they consistently fill the Actors' Workshop audience to the point where they need extra chairs. More importantly, the company has forged a recognizable personal style out of an emphasis on the actor, physical action, sex-blind casting, risk-taking, and exploration of the works of cutting-edge playwrights from all countries and ages. And so these five-playlets, each sharply and originally realized, constitute a kind of "Best of TheatreZone" anthology --- not because they've ever done these plays, but because all the tricks of that style work so well.

The playwrights all play games with reality. For Mac Wellman's "Sandalwood Box" Tori Davis narrates a story that includes a dream while Anna Pond , Hilary Fabre and others act it out, often with the three women of the Chorus adding to the sense of hectic energy by rolling and flailing about in the background slapping the stage and the scenery while the dream figures or the narrator converse. In "The Wedding on The Eiffel Tower" by Jean Cocteau the huge cast expertly lip-synchs while all the narration and dialogue are spoken by Brian McNeany and Michael Lane seated on opposite sides of the stage and called "Phonograph 1" and "Phonograph 2".

Cocteau has a photographer who at the words "watch the birdie" has odd things fly out of the camera such as a bathing-beauty (Anna Pond), an Ostrich and a Lion (both John Herring, whose mane and plumes are stunning) and finally the expected dove (Herring again, diaphanous this time). Three ladies play telegrams that waft about on the tower's fourteenth floor, and Dan Zisson's tower manager commissions George O'Connor's red-coated Hunter to stalk the terrified Ostrich. In such plays things are what they say they are, but the cast takes such obvious glee in being a wedding-cake Bride or a terrified Ostrich that it works.

Ms. Jacques plays the Mute in Jean Anouilh's "Humulus The Mute" while a regally gowned and ear-ringed Eric Werner plays his autocratic grandmother the Duchess. At one point Jacques pursues his bicycling lady love (Anna Pond) on a unicycle, while saving up the one word he speaks per day for a whole month to declare his love and propose.

In "Naomi in The Living Room" Jacques plays literally the mother-in-law from hell, whose rages are intense and whose mood swings wildly every single sentence. She's forgotten that Dan Zisson is really her son --- who streaks offstage tearing off badly color-co-ordinated clothes only to return as a cross-dresser. Only Tori Davis as his wife seems sane in this, a bit of froth from Christopher Durang that the TheatreZone pushes to the extreme.

The opening play "Home Section" by Janusz Glowacki has Dan Zisson and Michael Lane professionally painting an apartment, talking about all kinds of things, contrasting New York with their native Poland, complaining about the accident-prone Playwright (Paul Ricciardi) they're saddled with, and dispassionately deciding to cover the corpse they've found hanging in one room with the New York TIMES so they can paint around him and leave. With this as an almost naturalistic introduction, the evening gets wilder and wilder play by play.

There are five different directors here using 16 actors to play 35 different roles --- more, since so many double or even triple. Yet energy and timing never falter, action and delivery are always spot-on to match the oddity of the text, and despite the different temperatures of the various authors, there is a light-hearted unity to the entire evening. Whether it's the eminently portable Anna Pond handed about the stage, smiling, or Danielle Jacques coming close to an orgasm with her couch, or John Herring leaving as a bored Duke to reappear festooned in feathers, everything serves the plays and delights the audience.

TheatreZone will be doing Lorca's "Blood Wedding" in December.
I can hardly wait!

Love,
===Anon.


"SURreal Life" (till 27 November)
"Home Section"
"Sandalwood Box"
"Naomi in The Living Room"
"Humulus The Mute"
"The Wedding on The Eiffel Tower"
THEATRE ZONE
Actors' Workshop, 40 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
(617) 887-2336

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |