November 10, 2006

The ruling class

This weekend's offering at the Studio Theatre is The ruling class. Go see it, it's good (and showing at 2pm and 7:30pm tomorrow).

I nearly didn't get in; as usual, I was cutting it close to the wire, and when I got there at 7:29, they told me the house was closed. Then they asked if I was by myself—there were two seats left, actually. So, happily, I got in after all.

After some brief delays, the show started, and our introduction to the family Gurney is a speech by its highly eccentric earl, who turns out to be partial to pink tutus and hangman's nooses. The earl is played by Matt Allis in the first of three brief but very funny roles where he gets to be quite the scene stealer. The other character in this first scene is the butler, played by Pam Schuller, also a scene stealer through the rest of the show.

The rest of the cast is a bit more serious, though they all have their moments. Not a one of them did a bad job; this show is the sort of show that makes me brag about the Studio Theatre to people who ask me how I like Galesburg. But the clear winner here is Evan Sawdey, the star of the show, the gravitational well around whom everyone else is orbiting. I don't know from psychology, but he sure looked like he was convincingly rolling through several stages of some schizophrenic disorder to me. The role was technically very demanding, just in terms of having about a million lines, many of which needed to be spit out at (literally) insane rates of speed; but it also requires some pretty radical character development through his various God complexes, which he pulls off without even batting an eye. Nicely done. It makes me a little sad that, because it went up in the Studio, this part isn't eligible for that one acting award that gets voted on at the end of every schoolyear, but then, there's three more mainstages yet, so he'll have another shot.

The show was not without its foibles, of course. One actor kept cracking a smile at his funny lines; another kept forgetting to limp. The actresses all need to learn better how to walk in heels (and that's been an issue in a lot of different shows I've seen here). But overall, the problems I saw were so small as to just seem nitpicky compared to all the good stuff. I haven't even gone into how great the script is, lots of subtle lines, little things that small subsets of the audience would pick up on; and I won't. I'll let you go check it out for yourself.

"Not here---last time I was kissed in a garden, it turned out rather awkward." --Peter Barnes, The ruling class (Jack)

Posted by blahedo at 11:52pm on 10 Nov 2006
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