Reviews - oct. 2020
To start, an apology: I missed opening weekend for this show. When I say 'missed' - you'll note this show isn't on the Calendar. It wasn't on my radar AT ALL. For me personally, it's completely unacceptable. I need to do better, and I will.
Living Drama Theatre put the past six months of COVID-induced down time to good use, renovating the theater itself and changing out the tiny movie theater seats for some with better leg room and a bit more hip space. It looks great, honestly.
With that said, it pains me to provide the faint praise and say the production was better than not going to theater at all. The costumes were well done, the set fine, audio and lighting coordination a bit off for mostly ok; but only one actor brought the right kind of energy, and script is just awful on top. Pacing is very uneven, characters getting to two-dimensional a bonus, and the poor Rev. Mountain (Luke Bane) being written with a fear of the dark (because of being abused as child) and this is used for (nominal) comic effect. This is completely tone deaf in current society.
The source of nearly all the energy in the production is Kenyatta Edwards, playing Mrs. Wilcox - the 'monster-in-law' no wife would want to deal with. The stage comes alive when she's on, and that's not the Playwright's effort, that's Edwards herself. Abbigail "Abby" Wade plays Addison, the daughter-in-law-to-be, and her highlights occur when playing against Edwards, and in singing little snippets of tunes onstage; she seems to have quite a pleasant voice. But without Edwards, the rest of cast suddenly go to sleep - tones drop lower, lines and pickups are slower and less nuanced, it drags. Ridge Patterson plays three roles, the main being 'Raul', whose energy tries to be high, but it comes off as a poor man's version of Larry Miller's "Paolo" from 'The Princess Dairies" 1 & 2. In theory, Austen Stanley's James is the male lead, but Stanley has no energy at all onstage, and that's probably down to the script again. Once the major players are on, James becomes background noise and doesn't do much except try to keep his mother and fiancee from fighting.
Pet Peeves: bottles and glasses are empty of liquid, cast is masked but I saw only three members of the audience remain masked when seated. WEAR YOUR MASKS!
This is the closing weekend (darn it), so see it if you can, if only to support local community theater and watch Ms. Edwards give nasty looks and sharpen her claws on Addison!
The last several times I visited Melon Patch, the bar was raised, and raised again. So it was with high hopes that I attended the opening night of Clue! On Stage, a production based on a screenplay based on a board game.
I'm afraid the run of the bar being raised has been broken.
The set was very good; The costumes were spot-on; The cast knew their lines and marks for opening night. For some groups, this would be an unabashed 'Win'.
And every opening night has the occasional flub. Or even two or three. For instance, the guests are arriving for dinner and the door bell rings while the door is wide open. Those things happen. Tonight, they happened; AND the pacing was all over the place; AND the script rehashes a LOT of old vaudeville jokes; AND the characters are very fuzzily drawn; AND the biggest role (The Butler, of course) is being portrayed as an homage to the original character of the movie, played by Tim Curry. I haven't seen the movie in 30 years, but the actor (unnamed; more in a moment) does a passable vocal impression of Curry's verbal tics. The problem is I'm not sure he *knows* they're verbal tics and not actually part of the onstage character.
I'd call out the Butler by name not just as a poor man's Tim Curry but also for his excellent recap of the entire show thus far at the end of the production, but I don't know his name.
Neither does anyone in the audience who's not acquainted with him or related to him.
Melon Patch, in apparently an abundance of COVID caution, decided not to provide programs. There's not a cast list on the website, or social media either - so if you don't directly know someone on stage, good luck congratulating them! Or the set builders. Or the costumers. I can't agree with this idea at all - there's already little recognition for these people, throw them a bone and print a darn program: run them under a UV lamp and hand them out with gloves if contamination is a worry, but don't take this away!
On the matter of COVID awareness, the theater IS requiring the audience to wear masks while in the building. The actors and all the staff I saw wore masks as well (and well done! on these points!).
BUT (and you knew this was coming) they aren't cloth masks, or the up-to-your-scalp-and down-to-your-neck face shields. These were plastic frames from ear to chin to ear, with a 2 inch plastic shield that came up to about the bottom of your nose. In theory, it'd directly stop an actor from frothily spitting their lines on a cast mate; as COVID transmits, by all accounts, as an exhaled vapor droplet these shields are useless.
And to kick the play when it's down: Pet peeve time. All the glasses are empty. The soup serving tureen is empty. The soup ladle pouring soup in to the actor's bowls? Empty. And the actors, bless them, are spooning up imaginary soup to their masks and making slurping noises. I understand suspending disbelief, but I can't go there with you on this one, Melon Patch.
Look, a so-so play on a Friday night this year is always better than 6 months of no 'Play-ing around' at all, period. But I've come to expect more from this venue.
Grade: C - I'd say kids down to 9-10 would be fine seeing the show. But play a game of Clue first.