January 30, 2005

Double header, part two

After a short break, a completely different set of actors launched into a completely different play. The Private Ear it was, by Peter Schaffer. The director was Doug Porter, who I've mentioned here before; his mom, it turns out, was sitting next to me, which led to a nice conversation during the intermission. Doug's brother Brian, who I'm currently advising in an independent study, was there too. Knox is such a great small school.

Anyway, about the show. It was a strange little show. I never did quite figure out when or where it was supposed to be taking place; there were a lot of conflicting cues. Several of the words and phrases seemed to be British---"daft", "bloody", etc---but the place names were around New York City. The timeframe was clearly not in the last decade or two, but beyond that, it was hard to place it. I'm going to guess 1950s Britain, with the place names changed, but I wouldn't put money on it. They should have gone ahead and changed some of the interjections too, though.

The lead, Evan Sawdey, did quite a job at playing a truly awkward, shy, introverted guy. Mere silence isn't awkward; he lent it the tension it needed for a truly uncomfortable moment. Then he punctuated it with that running-off-at-the-mouth babbling that is approximately the only thing worse than awkward silence. Nicely done.

The female lead, Shannon May, was playing "making the best of a bad date". At which she did a perfectly good job. Not quite sure what to make of the whole thing, she managed to simultaneously exude politeness and skepticism in a great mix.

Her costume was something else. The skirt looked like an eye-exam picture, the one with the big dots of colour, except that here it was just black and grey and red dots on a background of white. She was wearing a supposedly faux-ocelot fur drape that was really just a plain brown; they even make a point in the show of mistaking ocelot for leopard---couldn't they at least find something with spots? (I suppose that finding the right kind of fur, even fake fur, probably would exceed the $50 or so budget that these shows have.) And while I'm ranting about costume, I'm almost positive that three-button suits weren't current in any of the possible milieux I'm imagining for this show; they went out in the early 20th century if not earlier, and didn't really come back until just a few years ago. Ah well. Such are the pitfalls of the Studio Theatre. :)

The third actor, Eric Feltes, was in something of a crisis. At the beginning of the show, he's giving Evan's character advice on what to wear; and unfortunately, given our current cultural context, it really came across like a scene out of Queer Eye. This was quite at odds with the character as written, who is very much a playa type, one who knows just enough French and fashion to be smoov with the ladies. For most of the show, the two (stereo)types kept jumping back and forth in my head, which was sort of unfortunate. Several times the lines spoken would be something that didn't even fit either one particularly---every time the word "vino" came up, for instance---and it seemed to jar the scene. At least once, I distinctly saw him almost say "wine" instead of "vino"; I think it might have helped if he had. I don't think it was really until about the last quarter of the show that I got the right mental character in place for him... on the other hand, I'm not really sure what he could have done differently to fix that.

But for all the picking I'm doing here, I actually liked the performance quite a bit. It was pretty dark (the story, not the lighting), and the ending was really rough (in the sense of being a downer, not of being unpolished). By the end, I felt nothing but immense sympathy for the lead character. He's such a nice guy, and he deserves so much better.

"Maureen Dowd once referred to Bill Clinton's sexual escapades in the White House as "maladroit du seigneur," which infuriates me because I didn't think of it." --Eric Zorn

Posted by blahedo at 12:44am on 30 Jan 2005
An Aurora boy, is Eric? It's a relatively uncommon name but that's where my family's centered. Posted by Michael at 7:23pm on 30 Jan 2005

He appears to be from that area, yes. I didn't think it was that uncommon; I could've sworn I knew someone else with that last name, though I'm now not sure from where. (That's why I pronounced your name with a z sound until you corrected me---it wasn't, or at least, I didn't think it was, just a guess.)

I confess I did wonder if he was any relation, but ended up dismissing it, figuring the name was too common to support that guess!

Posted by blahedo at 12:38pm on 31 Jan 2005
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