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November 12, 2009 | by  | in Arts Theatre | [ssba]

This Sounds Familiar Though…


Counting The Ways
Written by Edward Albee
Directed by Dan Brown

There is a joy in the obvious. There is a serene hilarity in the unsubtle. Counting the Ways knows this. A heavily absurdist piece tracking the breakdown of a marriage. This marriage seems to be situated within a sitcom or old vaudeville routine. The characters are not only trapped with each other, they are trapped within the confines of genre. And there in lies a problem. When working with such heavily stylistically dedicated material plays like this can easily become bland, boring exercises in form. Not here. Dan Brown has taken Albee’s inspired, if somewhat tonally and thematically flat, and made it not just into a hilarious romp of epic proportions but manages to slip in a few moments of the profound. He is very ably aided by his cast, Nick Zwart and Amelia Reynolds, who take their natural comic timing and new found talents for double speak and goobledegook and rather than use lazily lay down in them but use them to get to you. A triumph.

La Calle de la Gran Ocasión—Dialogues
Written by Luisa Josefina Hernández
Directed by Laura Velvin

La Calle de la Gran Ocasión—Dialogues is selection of scenes from a wider work. They all deal with, rather wonderfully, with ideas of watching and the connection that forms, whether it be romantic or otherwise, between the observer and the observed. Laura Velvin in her choice of the work and the moments of brilliance that flashed through in the work, is very clearly a very talented direction and yet, something seemed to fail to click. Utilizing the vast open space of Studio 77 but putting the audience up into the gallery and spreading the action throughout the space, the work has a sense of air and depth often lost in the bleak, lazy confines of the end stage, it was not the place but the things within it that just didn’t seem to mesh. A lot of the performances seemed lazy and distant, as if they weren’t trying, with only really a turn from Izzy Mackinnon as a child obsessed with a dangerous and silent man feeling committed to the work to any real degree. Samantha Woodward’s beautiful lighting, hiding rather than showing, made the show a visual feast along with Ailsa Krefft’s dynamic and creative sets and costumes. Though that could, as a matter of course, be said of any of the three plays in this season.

The Spurt of Blood
Written by Antonin Artaud
Directed by Nick Sturgess-Monks

There is a sense of expectation going into an Artaud play that cannot really be matched by any other playwright. He is above all else notorious. One would hope that anyone who invented anything called the ‘theatre of cruelty’ would be. Violence, nudity and back flips are the order of business. Legible narrative and thematic coherence are bashed from the room. You expect an assault, an attack on your sense on your theatrical brain. I never thought it would be as fun as this. Sturgess-Monks has found a spark of life in what can easily threaten to be a doubly mundane landscape. Surrealism is usually old hat, uncalculated, uncontrolled and lazy, but for the glorious half hour of The Spurt of Blood it was new again. A brilliantly thrilling and alive voyage into a twisted world. Actresses wrapped in glad wrap and nothing else and limbs hanging from the ceiling should not have been this wonderful.

This Sounds Familiar Though…
Three Short Plays
By Edward Albee, Luisa Josefina Hernández and Antonin Artaud
Directed by Dan Brown, Laura Velvin and Nick Sturgess-Monks

Studio 77, 77 Fairlie Terrace
Wednesday 14—Saturday 17 October


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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