Tuesday, March 3, 2009


On Friday last I took the boys to see a University of South Carolina production of the experimental play, Action, performed at Longstreet Theater. It was their first time in the facility, with its theater in the round. I had been there before, but don't recall the seats being that small. They hemmed and hawed about being dragged to a play ("boring," Joey insisted), but after some arm-twisting, and a little speech about the importance of being exposed to many different styles of art, they relented. In the end, they said it was "so-so", but they did pay attention and they even laughed at some of the material, so I took it for a victory. I really want to take them to a musical.

Since the playwright, Paul Zimet, prefaced the show by noting that the presentation was a work in progress, I will give him and the company a little slack. The play promises action, and there was a pretty good deal of that, but overall I was not that impressed. However, I thought the actors and musicians did a good job. There were some nice and humorous moments, but I tend to like a story narratively told, rather than a mismatch of scenes. Why use kitchen bowls and grill rack as instruments, when small ship bells would have been more condusive to the nautical theme? A judicious use of a foghorn would have helped, I think. The premise that the ship overbooked and forced men and women to bunk together was a bit weak. The song that keeps popping up was catchy. The theme of using the "words" (such as erase, unpack, crumple. . .), I think took away from the flow of the story. The projections on the backdrop (which to me looked more like the outide of the ship, rather than the inside) did not often mesh well with the story, as in the section visualizing the woman on a balcony, and weren't effective. More effective, for me, was the beach scene. The audience, and my sons, really enjoyed the dancing scenes. They, and I frankly, were confused by the use of the balloons, but it was comical. I think they also need to find a smoother way to change scenes. The "bad day" scene was interesting, but seemed somehow out of place, although it preceeded the overall really bad day for the crew and passengers. If this is truly a South American cruise, the playwright might also consider casting some Latin Americans, perhaps as crewmen. I liked the use of the plastic to simulate the female passengers in the water. I also might suggest the inclusion of a "floating body" as a means to convey the seriousness of the situation. The man in the black plastic bag in one scene (a harbinger perhaps) really threw me off. . .what was that about?

So, I would say, that there is promise, but also much work to do to make this a truly appealing work.

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