Friday, May 08, 2009

Well Most Wonderful

I pulled off a two-fer yesterday, seeing “Endless Forms Most Wonderful” at the Science Museum and sneaking out to “Well” at Barksdale while another chunk of Tlines went to SPARC’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” That’s a lot of theater being absorbed by one family.

I want to talk more about both of the shows I saw but this morning has gotten busy here at the mayo mill so I’ll just say these quick things right now:

Doug Jones has been encouraging people far, wide and often to go see “Endless Forms” and for good reason. It’s fact-filled and educational – which usually blunts drama, action or comedy – but also still ends up being a very nice human story of Darwin’s family life. Larry Gard and Kimberly Jones Clark are superb and Lynne Hartman’s lighting is extraordinary within the limitations of the space.

“Well” was great – a show that may confound some people with its meta-theatrical mashup that pretty much threads (UPDATE: threads? Huh? I think I meant 'shreds' here. Oy.) the fourth wall. As someone who sees dozens of shows a year, this kind of challenge to the basic forms is exciting just on that basis. But the performances are also awesome with some excellent actors navigating the shifting realities of the show with precision.

Jenny Hundley does a fine job in the lead role where she basically gets to have the least amount of fun of anyone. Steve Perigard is a stitch as the clinic nurse; Molly Hood is compelling in all of her roles, perhaps most of all as herself; and Joshua Boone is a fresh and energetic newcomer who clearly has some great skills, portraying both an alcoholic father and his young son convincingly.

But the people I left this production thinking most about were Katrinah Carol Lewis who gets to show off some of her extensive range, playing everything from a terrifying bully to an angry clinic patient who delivers one of the most poignant “breakthrough” scenes of the show. This is an actress who should have a one-woman show to do so she can really blow some audience's minds. And Jody Smith Strickler. What can I say? I just adore her and she is so organic in a role that almost begs to be cliché. I was absolutely rapt during her extended monologue late in the show that is like a little master class on how to make a potentially static monologue live and breathe. I have to say I had flashbacks to her doing the same thing in “Quilters” a billion years ago but this one is even more impressive because there is no patina of frontier courageousness here. Just a mom talking about life and her daughter and its sweet and clear and real. Nicely done, Ms. Strickler.

OK, so I wasn’t so quick with the thoughts. Gotta run! Have a great weekend.


Thespis' Little Helper said...

Endless Forms Most Wonderful closes THIS SUNDAY! Two shows today (10 & 11:30AM) and matinees on Saturday and Sunday (3PM).

Jody in Well is a revelation. I've seen it twice and hope to be able to go once more. I didn't like the play in reading it...or even in seeing it the first time (although I think the production is really incredible). I love that you note Molly Hood as herself. My first instinct is to remember her as Joy, which kind of rocks my world, but then as Molly it's...yeah...compelling is one of many apt words for it.

I saw Midsummer last night. I have to say, I'm with Andrew! (And how often does that happen! *hahaha*)

Brandon Crowder's Oberon. I'm gonna say it: O...M...G. I could go on, but that might be awkward...ok...maybe I will a little bit...It was so SEXY, his Oberon. His Flute/Thisby was pretty rockin' as well. But Oberon...yeah.

And Stacie's Helena, I particularly loved as well, I think mainly because she really was in love with Demetrius and she was truly hurt by his scorn, as opposed to being infatuated and then frustrated.

Those are my thoughts for the moment!

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Meant to point out that upon the second viewing of Well I liked the script a lot more, likely due to the fantastic production.

S. Davis said...

Charlie Brown presented by SPARC at Stage 1 is the best show in town that no one really knows about right now. We saw it last night and absolutely adored it. The cast we saw (apparently there are 2 casts?) was top-notch, and my husband and I smiled from start to finish. If you enjoy supporting youth in the arts, go see SPARC's Charlie Brown. It's absolutely worth it, as well as to see the great space at Stage 1 Theatre Company.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

TRANSLATIONS by Brian Friel at Sycamore Rouge. Saw it last night. Go see it. Brad T. and Rebecca M. are FANTASTIC in particular and there's lots of other great stuff going on too. Beautiful.