Search Results

Keyword: ‘Anne McEvoy’

Destroying the Light

March 10th, 2012 No comments

Went to Ensemble Theatre last night at Coventry to the Colombi New Plays Festival. I have to first say that I’ve never been in the school, which is disappointing because that is the school to which I thought I would be sending my daughter and son. But whomever closed it down, most likely to sell it off given it’s location. Instead, it sat empty and has slowly eked to life being variously a University Hospitals training facility, possibly a new site for the Music School Settlement, the location of Family Connections, and now Ensemble. The theater space is fantastic. It was set up in the round, almost, with one wall being the skene. Also, it’s location is fantastically close to all that is going on at Coventry: La Cave Du Vin, Winking Lizard, Grog Shop, etc.

There are three shows in the Colombi Festival, of which I went to see Destroying the Light by Sasha Thackaberry, whom I had met previously whilst wearing my work-a-day hat at the university down the road that laid me off. The play, directed by Peter Voinovich, is described as being a “modern reinvention of the myth of Persephone” and a “dark tale” that “explores Kora’s deeply personal fall to hell and her journey back from the brink.” Thackaberry definitely succeeds. Modernizing myths is at once popular and tricky. And I’m glad that Thackaberry gave a shout out to Joseph Campbell in her play. The trick in re-tellings is that so much that was attributed to gods now has to be attributed to the motives of man–in this case, woman, of course. In the myth Persephone (also known as Kore) is kidnapped and raped by Hades who takes her to hell. Demeter, Persphone’s mother, being quite pissed off about the whole thing refuses to allow crops (or anything) to grow until her daughter is returned–in effect kidnapping all of man and the gods. Hades, in the end, is forced to relinquish Persephone, but not before tricking her into eating a kernel from a pomegranate, thus forcing her to spends some months of the year in hell. This all is a partial explanation for the seasons of the year, especially winter and spring.

Thackaberry does a great job translating the essence of the myth into a human situation. For instance, there are varying ways that one could interpret the relationship between Demeter and Persephone, the route that Thackaberry goes is that of tension, rebellion, and hostility–which works. Kora (Rebecca Frick) is a young woman looking to become her own woman in the world. Clearly a precocious young woman, Kora has attempted many times to break out on her own only to have her oppressively attentive mother, Rita (Anne McEvoy) undermine her confidence and second-guess her all the way. The consequence is that Kora has taken to binge drinking, self-loathing, and increasingly reckless behavior. Through her father, Zackary (Bob McCoy), a talent agent, Kora meets Havier (Daniel Mcelhaney–who is a scene stealer in this piece) the lead singer of a rock band “Laudanum,” and the two agree to go on an epic bender to end themselves. This marks the terrific descent of Kora into the underworld of unending drugs, sex, traveling, etc. A dream for some a nightmare for others. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, at some point it would become exhausting. The question facing Kora is when this would happen and where she would be when it does. Given the mythic overtones, you can imaging where she ends up at the midpoint. The dark and heavy character of the play is balanced and broken up nicely by the use of three weird women–a combination of fates, furies, and Kora’s friends. They dance about, frame the story, lighten the mood, move the set pieces, and fill-in as various other characters throughout.

I’m not going to retell the entire play, to see how it all comes out you’ll have to go to Ensemble. Using the school provides ample parking and a convenient walk down the sidewalk to the side entrance. You can hit Coventry for a before show meal or check out Steve Presser’s Big Fun–and, of course, you can find a nice place for an after show drink.


May 24th, 2011 No comments

Channeling Genres in Insomnia

Went and saw Insomnia at CPT last week (or maybe two weeks) with Jordan Davis. Had a real good time and enjoyed the show at CPT thoroughly.


Insomnia proves again why the combination of Raymond Bobgan and Chris Seibert is powerful. POWERFUL. Tack on Holly Holsinger who can thoroughly dominate (as both an actor and director) and you’ve got some seriously muscular theater, which Insomnia is. Both Bobgan and Seibert demonstrate again (also Holsinger) why the organic process that they use to create inspired productions works and works well. Their exploration of personal story, myth, and religion works on the level of the unconscious leaving one with the peculiar sensation of having slept well and dreamed. And their exploration and use of space, acting techniques, sound, lighting, as well as in the more physical aspects of comic theater give the mind’s eye a feast of stage images to connect with the psionic elements.

The play opens in the attic of a house, which is of course suggestive of the psychological landscape in which the play’s action will take place. At first I wondered if the piece weren’t somewhat like Albee’s Three Tall Women, with each woman representing a different phase of life for the “main” character. I initially thought that this “main” character, in terms of focus, was Holsinger’s character (Ev) but it became quickly clear that Seibert’s character (Zelda) represented an imaginary friend or invisible playmate; and that the “main” character might be Evelyn (Anne McEvoy), who comes up the stairs from the “real” world below.

Seibert as Zelda plays a magnificently manic playmate who reminded me all-too-well of my daughter: with endless pulses of energy and a ruthless and relentless desire to play something regardless of my own lack of interest. Zelda made manifest that constant pushing and prodding that children do so well, as well as a deceptively naïve sweetness that became sharply brutal and precise in a flashing turn. Holsinger lives up to her name by singing frequently throughout the piece, showing off a lovely, deep voice and from the program it appears that the songs are original.

The physical aspects of the production (presentational) are tremendous. At the outset there is only Holsinger on stage, but soon there is thumping inside a trunk which was perhaps overlooked by the audience (was by me) from which Seibert emerges, playfully. She uses a croquet mallet as a periscope and then dances across the stage. Holsinger and Seibert play dress-up and enact the rapid-fire characters and dialogue of a circa 1930s/40s movie, like It Happened One Night or His Girl Friday. In an inspired dream sequence Seibert becomes an elemental force from another plane, cloaked in a diaphanous flowing garment—a resplendent ghost.

Equally strong is the sense/meaning of loss and reckoning in the play; the terrible sense of having settled and having not fulfilled a potential. The sense that life has become mundane and polite; a place that is all too easy for each of us to fall into and to which to become accustomed. If we are not careful and watchful we are at risk of taking much for granted: our life path, the people around us, and perhaps worst of all, our own selves. Insomnia addresses this head long and with an unflinching gaze; so much so that one might lose sleep at the horrifying confrontation.

Not to close on a down note, but I want to get off my chest the fact that I did not like the ending of the piece. There are several reasons for this, but the two biggest include that it 1) broke the frame of the play (with Holsinger going around and out to talk with the audience) and 2) it attempted to but a bow on a play that was best left unwrapped. I understand the impulse. In talking with Jordan Davis afterward we discussed that one great difficulty in this type of piece is that it is very difficult to close off. In my own work I often confront this problem and flinch in the face of providing a neat ending—it is too much for me to bear. I believe Insomnia could end when Holsinger’s Ev is revealed as being the “main” character and walks confidently out of the attic closing the door to descend to the remains of her (old?) life below. The powerful sense that there will be change is comparable to that of Nora slamming the door at the end of Ibsen’s play. I don’t know if there was too much of a sense that perhaps people would miss the resolution of that, or if that was not concrete enough resolution, or if there needed to be some clarification. I didn’t think so, and to me it undermined the power of what came before.

Cut to Pieces, another fabulous piece about which I cannot say enough is coming back soon to CPT and I can’t wait to see it.

After Insomnia, Jordan and I went to Happy Dog and heard The New Soft Shoe, which does covers of Gram Parsons. It was a pretty cool show and we sat with some friends of Jordan’s, one of whom, strangely enough, was a graduating Case student who was in Gilbert Doho’s theater class when I went to speak to them about my play Patterns. Small world.

%d bloggers like this: