Saturday, May 22, 2021

Pretty Proud Boy—Corrib Theatre—May 21-June 20

Down the Rabbit Hole

    This 30-minute, world premiere of this radio play is written by Rosaleen McDonagh and directed by Gemma Whelan.  Go to their site for more info:

    Although the play is Irish, the concerns and events are universal and topical during this COVID-19 era, surrounded by the Black Lives Matter Movement, immigration, protests, the “yellow-vested” movement, family dynamics, isolation and folks at a crossroads in their lives.  In this case, a concerned mother, Winnie (Deanna Wells) and her rebellious son, David (Zak Westfall).  The heart of the story is pretty much told in two, powerful monologues, one by the son and one by the mother.  But, because of discoveries the listener should make, really can’t reveal much of it.

    Both individuals have their points of view as how to handle conflict and strife, and, is predictable, in the generational gap in many situations like these, there are marked differences in how to approach change:  Non-violent confrontation?  Outright rebellion?  Peaceful demonstrations?  Submission?  Nothing that seems to work for everyone.

    One should remember, though, that if one peers into the abyss, beware, something might just be peering back at you, too!  Also, we too often forget that one size does not fit all, as one’s heritage and perspective tend to dominate our views, as is expected, but true change may lie in walking in somebody else’s shoes for awhile and see the world through their eyes.

    This is an impressive, heartfelt piece, as raw emotion, blind bravado, and inherent love rise to the surface, all at the same time in, like I said, two very powerhouse monologues, especially, and very well written, directed and performed!  I recommend this production.



Friday, May 7, 2021

IMAGO Theatre—"The Strange Case of Nick M.”—May 7th to the 16th, 2021



“Thanks for the Memories (?)”

     This radio play is written by Drew Pisarra, directed by Jerry Mouawad & produced by Carol Triffle (co-founders of Imago).  Music is by Clara & Robert Schumann and The Fucked Up Beat.  Piano compositions are performed by Eric Little and Chase Garber, and sound design by Myrrh Larsen.

     Memories are tricky things.  They have three components—Truth, Reality and…I forgot the third one.  Gotcha! that is the third one—foreign intervention, or perspective.  Ever remember something and then someone else chimes in with another version of the same incident?  Who is right?  Probably both parties, as memory is fluid and is influenced by the passage of time…as well as one’s own perspective.  The most prominent example may be Kurosaka’s immortal film, “Rashomon,” in which four people are involved in, or witness, a tragic event and the stories all vary, depending on the personalities/character of the individuals, begging the question then, what is the Truth/Reality of the situation?

     This story has something in common with the short, avant-garde play from yesteryear, “Krapps Last Tape,”  as well as Dr. Olver Sacks’ book, and subsequent film, of “Awakings.”

     As the tale goes, according to the smarmy Narrator (Danny Gray), Nick M. (Sean Doran) is a famous, classical concert pianist, who has developed the unique dis-ability of only remembering things for about 30 seconds…the ultimate in short-term memory.  And so, he is put under the care of a European doctor, Dr. Polina K. (Vanessa Hopkins) who has some rather unorthodox methods of curing his affliction.

     He is put in a controlled environment, in which all his actions are audibly recorded.  His wife, Betty (Nancy Campbell), is allowed to be his caretaker, as well as, perhaps, a memory-jogger for him.  And even his estranged daughter, Liz (Stephanie Woods), occasionally is allowed to drop in on him to see if she can shake his mind back into normal operation.  But the only thing that seems to work, is his music, which does give him some brief reprieve…“music soothes the savage beast,”maybe?

     Through all this kaleidoscope of knitting and stiching of the patchwork quilt of memories, is a solution found?  Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?  You’ll just have to hear for yourselves now, won’t you?

     This is definitely worth listening to, as the subject matter alone is monumental, and has no easy answer, if indeed there is one.   Mouawad (and Imago) are never ones for anything but provocative subject matter, and this is no exception.  It plays like a Christie mystery…intriguing, complex and thought-provoking…and in this Covid age of non-activity, might be just what one needs to stimulate those “little, gray cells,” again.

     The actors are all in fine voice, and color their performances so one can imagine the picture, but I do miss the visuals of Live theatre for the facial expressions and body language.  And the music by the Schumann’s, and performers of it, Little & Garber, add immensely to the success of this production.  I recommend it…definitely worth your time!

     For more information, go to