Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Nerd

Public Playhouse

October 12, 2007
Posted by Anton Ego

No excuse for proscenium blocking on a thrust stage. Don't sit on the sides. First act ruined by Don Kinder's ham-fisted performance - speaks lines like reading a cereal box. Second act much tighter. Neth Rose shines - hilarious, nuanced performance. Dustin Milberg uneven as Willum but quite moving after final "transformation."


will said...

Let me preface this post with the acknowledgment that I take pleasure in this little company. I welcome what it has, and what it is, attempting to do. It may not always succeed, but it has heart. I hope they keep at it. That said, a forum like this is fine conduit to expose possible flaws (even if they are opinions) so that such companies will expand, as opposed to dwindle.

Also, consider this your **spoiler alert** ...I want to make sure we are all on the same page, even though the run is over.

It seems that the Public Playhouse suffers from either misguided casting choices, or just a lack of willing talent. From the limited shows that I have witnessed, there seems to be a consistent theme: a few talented people supported by other actors that need a tremendous amount of additional guidance, or (and there is no nicer way to say this) people that should not be on the stage to begin with. The work of the inexperienced actors is disturbing enough that it detracts from the interesting work that the skilled actors are bringing to the table.

For example, last season, a frequent poster made a comment about how a particular actor “deserves note” in The Boys Next Door. He couldn’t have been more incorrect. Mind you, the actor needed a note, but it wasn’t praise: there’s no motive for you to mug, refrain from gesticulating your lines (particularly frustration), and if the script isn’t pointing to you but someone else in the moment, don’t draw from your fellow actors. Accomplish that, you would be a fine watch, but you need to put in the hard-work and stop relying on actor tricks.

Yet, in said production, there was a particular moment that other people noted as well that was one of the most magical actor moments I have ever observed.

As far as The Nerd, maybe it is only me, but this production (either in the writing or in the direction…I am leaning towards the writing) suffers from a lack of justification. The “why would character x act in y way.” For example, why would Ticky, who does not want to wear a bag on his head and who has forcibly run into other people…why would he not rip off his bag right then to see if he hurt someone, when it is obvious he has. The first thing any reasonable person would do (okay, the second thing if you are not counting the fact they are wearing bags) would be to take off the bag on your head to see if “any damage” was done, especially when you WANT a reason to take the bag off.

How could Ticky and Willum avoided hearing Clelia’s plate-induced, vocally-thunderous orgasm from the other room?

What did Kemp get out of making someone’s life hell for a week? Did I miss Axl say “here’s the cash I owe you,” or ask him “does this make us even for what happened in Puerto Rico?” Anything like that? I could have just missed it.

Why would the people leaving a message on your answering machine know to wait for you to speak intuitively, not to mention psychically? Man, even the beep at the end of the message will wait for you to say your line. I understand the practical production justification, but it destroys any momentum in sustaining our disbelief. Add fluff to the message in between important lines if a character onstage is required to speak.

I also second followspot…the people on the far sides got screwed...tell me they got some sort of discount, especially for $16 general seating?

Please keep at it Public Playhouse. Work out your kinks.

***End of spoiler***

…which is the very reason why donkeys shouldn't sit next to the elderly.

A little Nonny Mouse said...

I agree. I think this group has a lot of heart, and some great ideas. But sometimes the follow-through seems to be lacking.

Why was the cottage cheese on Ticky's suit OBVIOUSLY styrofoam chunks painted to look like cottage cheese? Why not just dump cottage cheese on him before he comes on stage?

When the shoes and socks came back on stage, why were they OBVIOUSLY not wet? The whole thing is about them being wet. Could the actors just not stand putting on wet socks for the remaining ten minutes of act one?

I've seen this show before, and the indictation to me then was that Axel and Kemp were lovers - which gives Kemp a motivation for helping out Axel. Was that just the production I saw, or did this production intentionally drop that choice?

So many questions...