Yesterday, I got out of work early to head down for another rehearsal in the city. I had spent most of my free time this week watching Michael Jackson videos to prepare for my role as a globe who wants to sing like the king of pop. (Yes, you read that sentence correctly.) So yesterday at rehearsal we worked through the show completely, and we worked some of those moves I've picked up into the show. We have a couple of rehearsals coming up in the next week before our performances in Trenton in mid-June, and we still have plenty of time to polish everything up.
We got out of rehearsal just in time for a costar and I to race downtown in time for the opening curtains of the shows we were seeing. I went to see the XXX's production of E. It is a show that I might possible be doing in the fall, so I was interested to see another director's take on the show. Especially from a well-funded theatre that has a reputation for excellent theatre. But the experience last night was very disappointing. The design of the show was amazing, and the most effective moments were the ones that were born out of the set and lighting. There was a moment in which the blue-washed stage was lit brilliantly by a wash of yellow. The effect was striking, and people in the audience actually gasped. There are also two sequences that are thrillingly theatrical, in which E's father builds her a room in the underworld made out of string. Such time and care is given to the moments, it is refreshing to see the director have the faith that the moments would play if given the proper space.
With all these striking elements, however, the production felt very hollow. Several of the leading actors weren't at all convincing in their roles, as if they were trying for something in high style and they never quite pulled it off. The scenes between father and daughter, as well as husband and wife, should have been touching and sweet, but they all felt forced. And with no emotional connection between any of the principle characters, I felt very little emotional connection as an audience member. Some characters broke out of the realistic mode, however, including the three-part "chorus of stones." Attired and interpreted as a trio of clowns, they were complete with baggy pants, oversized shoes, funny hats, and black and white make-up. They performed well as a trio, but I couldn't see how they connected into the rest of the world. And in the double role of "nasty interesting man" and lord of the underworld, XXXXX earns some of the shows more hearty and inappropriate laughs. It felt as though he were presenting characters from a standup routine as opposed to fully created performances.
The director of the upcoming show I might be doing was curious as to my thoughts. And as a result of the show last night, I think I can give him a very good guide as to the potential traps of this show. Our artistic sensibilities lie in the same directions, so I think that most of my thoughts would also be his. I'm glad I caught the show, even if it wasn't all that I thought it would be.