Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Local Droppings, Dog Days Edition

Before heading into the next period of employment, I took a few weekends to catch up on the local theatrical offerings. Slim pickings, volume wise, as August really does mean the Dog Days of summer. Most theatres in town are dark, or are in rehearsal for their big season opener.

First Up, I caught the first show of the new Theatre Alliance season. It was quick (about 70 minutes) and easy (less than 5 minutes from my house), so I had nothing to lose by popping in. Actually, TA puts out really interesting stuff, though I miss most of it. I appeared there 4 years ago or so, and had a very rewarding time.

Their current show, a world premiere, just did not sit right with me. It was one of those scripts redolent with characters who are quick with the quips, which gets old for me pretty quickly. As a result, I did not enjoy the production, nor the performances in it (I give the actors kudos for playing the script with gusto, I just didn't buy any of it). The show is getting mixed-to-good reviews, so apparently some people like it.

My second evening out was much more enjoyable. I shlepped out to Rep Stage to catch their season opener, A.R. Gurney's "Mrs. Farnsworth." My grad school buddy Steve Carpenter directed the piece environmentally. That is, because the play takes place in a classroom, Steve actually did the show in a classroom, a lecture hall at Howard Community College. I really enjoyed this bit of left-wing agitprop, which contained a couple of swell performances by Helen Hedman and Mitchell Hebert.

I was so glad I ventured out a third night, to catch the remount of "Pangs of the Messiah" at Theatre J. The show ran a month or so ago, and was such a success, it's back for an encore. I confess that I was prepared for a dry political diatribe, but instead, I was completely sucked into this very personal story of Jews being evacuated from the West Bank. The script was riveting from start to finish, and the performances, lead by Laura Giannarelli (seen here with Alexander Strain) and Michael Tolaydo, were among the best I've seen in a long while.