note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey
"New Works 7X7"
"The Shape of Things"
All by Beverly Creasey
If you missed Encore Theatre's stunning stage production of "Chicago" --- well, I guess you can always see the movie........ Although a movie just can't duplicate the thrill of living, breathing, pounding choreography and electrcity you can feel when Samantha Brior-Jones or Matthew Finn cut loose.
And what a chorus Encore had to support Brior-Jones and Jennifer Simmons as the two gorgeous jailbirds. Jocelyn Hesse, too, deserves special mention as the red hot Mama Morton. Director Sonya Worden's extraordinary cast gave it the old 'razzle-dazzle" and Jason Whiting and The Windy City High Tones blew the roof off the joint. Lisa Cahill did indeed bead and feather 'em all from their long, long legs to their silky shoulders. What a show!
What's Encore doing for an encore?
"Chain" is a disturbing monologue about a young crack addict whose parents have chained her up when all other efforts to get her detoxed have failed.
Naeemah A. White Peppers gives a chilling performance as the desperate teenager, and what lifts Pearl Cleage's play above an episode in "Law And Order" is its immediacy. We're practically in the living room with her in Director David Miller's harrowing production. The evening I attended, a recovery group had come to see the play and they gasped, nodded and "amen-ed" many of her speeches. POWERFUL STUFF...Beautifully acted...Naeemah White Peppers is an actress to watch for.
Sam Shepard had LaMama. William Donnelly has the Industrial Theatre to produce his highly inventive and wickedly amusing plays. This month he's sharing the stage in Harvard Square with six other local writers. They call their evening of bright New Works "7X7" and each play uses "seven" in some unusual way.
I'm still marveling at Susan trausch's ohso clever indictment of our obsession with time and money called "24/7" in which the ancient Greek captains of industry lobby for more earning time.....and at William Donnelly's "7&7" ---- a searing distillation of one man's poison; in this case it's a woman: Michelle Aguillon, in a chilling performance, delivering a condensed lecture on the evils of drink;....or Bill Latanzi's seven hilarious nightmares, brought to life by Kim Anton and a menacing crow....or James Henderson's riotously most inconvenient overtime skit.....I could go on, and on.
Donnelly and company know how to put on a fast paced, rewarding evening of fresh ideas. (How often can you say that?) And Industrial gets talented directors like Lisa Burdick, Dave Poole and Luke Dennis to make the scripts sizzle. They sure are industrious and we reap the bounty of their efforts. Bravo.
Neil LaBute made a name for himself with the startlingly original (and cruel) film "The Company of Men". Now SpeakEasy Stage has mounted his searing turn-about-fair-play (or rather foul-play) drama "The Shape of Things" which was a big hit in London and New York.
"Art for art's sake" gets put to the test in "Shape". The artist in question is an attractive, headstrong woman intent on making her mark in the art world. She hooks up with a charming, somewhat insecure young man who responds eagerly to her attentions, eagerly even to her increasingly bizarre manipulations. He seems to thrive, in fact, under her thumb.
Paul Melone's smart, tight as a drum production pulls it all together: Brilliant performances, smooth as silk (even amusing) set changes, gorgeous lighting and perfectly chosen costumes all add up to a thrilling, albeit disturbing evening in the theatre.
Paul Theriault's set pieces (translucent glass panels of branches, sliding benches, etc.) move quickly on and off with cleverly choreographed, witty little filips as the changes go by (a tousled head of hair here, a silhouetted stare there). C Scott Ananaian's light dances nervously across a bench to introduce a highly agitated scene, as does Rick Brenner's haunting original music --- especially his mock spaghetti-western melody for the play's showdown. Gail Buckley's trendy "painted" skirt and fire-engine red vest tell us everything about the artist, just as baggy pants and hokey cord jacket says "raw material" to her.
Laura Latreille is rivetting as the diabolically him art student. Tommmy Day Carey is wonderfully wholesome and earnest as her beau. Stacey Fischer gives a luminous performance as the naive half of a mismatched couple who are friends of the young man, and Walter Belenky sparks as her cocksure fiance. (I'd go again just to hear Belenky's defiant "What!" which substitutes for reasonable debate in his limited lexicon.) It's plenty ironic that LaBute places "the truth" where we can't hear it either. Unpleasant as his scenarios are, they're the most interesting theater and film around. Bravo, Speakeasy.