Thursday, September 20, 2007

Garden


Photo: Owen Carey

Artists Repertory Theatre
September 19, 2007; closes October 14, 2007

The kids are alright. Burch and Caffall are wonderful as two young souls in turmoil. Elsewhere accent inconsistencies at times hamper the crucial social contexts of several characters. Nuts and bolts of the dramatic machine more visible in this half. Fountain a little too cute. Still, a real achievement here.

14 comments:

Ben Waterhouse said...

I feel the same way about the fountain--all that work for a lousy sight gag?--but the damn thing's in the script!

Anonymous said...

Although funny at times, this whole enterprise seemed like an astounding amount of energy for very little payoff. I kept asking myself, "Why two plays simultaneously?" Both could have been cut by 30 minutes and still said the same thing. Although there were some fun characters, overall I was left feeling like it was a chinese food of a play. It goes right through you and then you forget it.

Anonymous said...

I think it's spelled "Caffall"

followspot said...

Thanks! Sorry.

Anonymous said...

We often find ourselves bemoaning a show whose acting outshines the writing; I just didn't expect it to happen with Ayckbourn! I didn't like this one -- which is not to say I didn't enjoy it. No, it has lots of lovely and hilarious bits, and the cast tackles them gamely, but it was altogether too episodic, piecemeal, silly and cheap. If I were to guess, I'd say Ayckbourn wrote "House" first, then concocted "Garden" around it, in the interstices of the other play. I'm not convinced this one stands on its own -- certainly not like the other does -- and I'm afraid someone who only saw this one would have a hard time understanding everything that's going on and what the relationships are. What IS the French actress doing at the Platts' home? What's Gavin Ryng-Mayne's role here? There's far too little of Trish. And apart from the semi-ennobling of Giles, who is the only character in this play I found sympathetic (Van Voris does a helluva lot with rather little), I didn't care about or for any of the characters. If you only see one of this pair, go to "House" -- which I found genuinely moving at times as well as hilarious -- and if you've only seen "Garden" so far, do make an effort to catch "House" as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't have my program handy so please bear with me. The young "couple" was fantastic. Very believable actors with superb accents. I laughed aloud several times during the show, but otherwise, I was pretty much bored to tears. Particularly whenever Lucille was talking. Could she have spoken just a little more en Francais (note sarcasm)? Mr. Kretzu should have cut her "speeches" liberally. I felt like I was seeing a college production with some of the incredible overacting by the characters of Jo and the younger cockney gal (who's stage diction was atrocious). I was surprised again that Kretzu didn't nip that in the bud. And I could barely understand Michael Mendelsonn's (sp) accent until he finally started enunciating in Act II. It's probably too late now for Van Voris to learn his lines, but come on - these tickets are not cheap! I'm seeing House next, which will hopefully bring some things together, but I feel that the show should have stood better on its own, and would have benefited by more meticulous direction.

Ben Waterhouse said...

It was my impression (and sincere hope) that the oddly accented couple were played as foreigners who'd learned English in the Borders. That would explain why they were so, um, odd. I don't care for the directing decision, but I'm choosing to believe that it was Kretzu's decision and not Mendelsonn's incompetence. His accent was fine in Orson's Shadow. Anybody know for sure either way?

rufus said...

I don't think it would be too difficult, if one traversed England, to find a great, great variety of accents -- and many of them would be difficult for our American ears to understand. Really, I think vast variety in regional dialects is common in most countries (when I lived in Europe I experienced them firsthand in both Germany and England). Think of the difference between born and bred speakers in Maine, Brooklyn, Louisiana, Texas. I think, thank goodness, the show displayed more than standard British or Cockney accents. Because these wild and crazy accents do exist, and their inclusion, for me, illuminated the characters and indicated socioeconomic differences between the characters in the play.

heynonnymice said...

The dialect support was not strong for this show, and the actors were underserved by it. This wasn't their fault, and all did the best they could under the circumstances.

I would have loved to have seen a "House and Garden" with as much dedication to dialect work as there is to any other aspect of theatre -- if there are fight calls, there certainly ought to be dialect calls, with everything actors need to build their dialects supplied (philosophy, analysis, audio samples, drills, video samples, etc.) well in advance of starting rehearsals.

This is not Portland's strong suit, though there is no reason for it not to be, except it isn't valued yet as an essential part of a professional production.

We might get there at some point, though -- many other aspects of our theatrical culture are improving, so this might too.

Anonymous said...

I thought the daughter was spot on, accent-wise.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps she was but she stood out as unusual because no one else sounded like her. Not even her parents.

Makes it look like she was not accurate when in fact she was very good.

Will said...

I agree with anon 3.31, but anon 3.54 brings up a good question, which is...

...Should an actor (supposing that it is never discussed by the director, as it should be) adjust the quality of his/her speech down to match the fellow actors if they are not up to the same level? What if the fellow-actors are absolutely atrocious, which didn't occur in this instance by any means, but still...

...thoughts? Would like to hear from others.

Anonymous said...

With regard to your immediate question, I'm inclined to say get it right, independently of the other actors. However, the audience comes before everyone, and I personally found Ms. O'Brien's dialect -- no matter how on point it might have been -- too thick to follow at times. Is it really worthwhile to be authentic if it doesn't ultimately convey the story?

Anonymous said...

The daughter sounded different from her parents because she was using RP English dialect which is a modern dialect among youth of England that makes them sound a little different from the standard English which was the dialect of the Parents. If you do travel around England you will find that the dialects are very different from each other, that is why maybe some audience members found it odd that everyone's dialect was not the same. Not because of lack of dialect work, but because there were social economic differences between some of the characters. Some from the North Country, (the people in Safari Outfits) Some from the West Country ( The O'Brians and the fella playing Warn) and the others from South where the play took place. Because they were different, doesn't mean that the actors did not work on dialect with a coach and run drills.