Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bent April 25 by the Raleigh Ensemble Players. This was a rich, intimate, deep, challenging performance.

The play follows Max's life from dissolute young partying life in Berlin in the 1930s to his time at Dachau concentration camp. He confronts everything from cold-blooded murderousness to grace around him and many sides of himself from manipulative self-promotion to overwhelming love.

The performance was done with a small audience (I think there were about 40 of us) moving through dark shifting spaces at the barked orders of guards in swastika-emblazoned uniforms to stand and sit around events as they unfolded. There was no hint of a third wall.

The actors themselves generally got me to forget that I was watching actors playing parts, which doesn't happen so often or easily for me. It was the occasional slip of southern drawl onto a word or a brush against someone in the audience that reminded me of their being actors. I was impressed.

It seems rare for me to see in a play (or most anything, for that matter) an earnest and wide-ranging set of situations, conflicts, values, emotions and motivations that is both difficult because it gets at painful things that happen in life and yet engaging as a story rather than a lecture or schematic. To be faced again and again with people in terribly difficult and often shocking situations and see what they do and wonder what I would do and why and how to decide what to do is both uncomfortable and a way to learn more about myself and what goes on with other people.

I don't think I can write positively enough to convey how much I value having gone to the performance. At the same time, I remember that only a few years ago, I just don't think I'd have been ready to go to the show or, if I had, that it would have touched me and moved me the way it does now.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum performed by the Pauper Players, April 24 at UNC. This was a modestly-budgeted and -staged (most or all student) production of the show (which I'd never seen before, but had heard a couple of songs from). The performances were solidly comic and musical (with just one number sounding off to me). I was impressed with the energy and willingness to really go for large silly performing, while keeping a fast tight pace and sounding good -- Lovely, even. I'm looking forward to the next Pauper show, and think I'll enjoy seeing this particular show another time.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NC Master Chorale April 19 - Verdi Requiem was well done. I wished I could hear more of the chorus, generally and in relation to the orchestra too often. I was actually most impressed with the pre-show talk by one of the cellists about the piece, the history around requiem compositions, and the performance itself.
Monty Python's Spamalot April 19, 2008 in Raleigh was fun and well-performed and well-staged. Glad I saw it, enjoyed it, and don't feel the need to see it again. Kind of like a nice dessert that's pleasant enough but doesn't call out to be had again.