by Chris Davis
I've already spoken with director Robert Hetherington (here), and provided a little outside reading assignment (here). But it would be wrong not to say a word or two about the performance itself. Michael Gravois and Michael Detroit play two men named Ivanov who have been confined to a mental institution. Detroit's Ivanov is schizophrenic and believes he is a symphony conductor. Gravois' only symptom: He disagrees with the Soviet government. The cast is rounded out by Bennett Wood (the doctor), Irene Crist (a teacher), Bill Andrews (the Colonel... or...um... other doctor), Luca Conti (the sane Ivanov's son), Conductor Mei Ann Chen as herself, and most of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
Detroit's performance as the troubled Ivanov—a role he played once before in 2004— seems to have been enhanced by the presence of Chen, who is an incredibly expressive conductor. Consciously or un he's grokked her physical relationship with the music, and when the two conduct at the same time it's like watching an edgy, tragicomic bit of modern dance.
Gravois is intensity personified as a man who would rather starve himself to death than confirm the State's assertion that he has a disease. The rest of the cast navigates Stoppard's most skeletal script well enough but this show's real stars are the techies who get fantastic sound throughout, and who end the show with some sonic slight of hand.
The MSO gives Previn's witty, heavily percussive score with its flatulent horns and busy cellos, the workout it deserves. I can't stress this enough: This show—a truly paradoxical blend of modesty and ambition— is rarely performed. See it while you can.
September 8 - September 10, 2011
Playhouse on the Square
Excerpt from The Hartford Stage's production of The Bluest Eye.
If you liked the film Precious you may want to also check out The Bluest Eye at the Hattiloo Theatre. This adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel focuses on many of the same themes. Also on stage in the Hattiloo's black box space: a revival of Home by Samm-Art WIlliams. For details go here.
You may also want to check out...
Wild Legacy, Gloria Baxter's award-winning script about love, Alaska, and all things wild opens at Rhodes College's McCoy Theatre. FREE!
The Book of Liz: The Emerald Theatre Company presents a comedy by talented Siblings Liz and David Sedaris.