Monday, January 21, 2008

Tales of Ordinary Madness

CoHo Productions
January 18 - February 23, 2008

Review by Thursday

Director Stepan Simek's new translation of a quirky well-written Czech play. His style plays up comedy and absurdity of the piece. With exception of sound at times, production was seamless. Inventive design and blocking support and enhance action. All actors' work on this thematically complex script pays off. Don't miss.


Anonymous said...

This show kicked some serious ass!!!

Don't miss it, or you will regret it.

YoungLover said...

Who is Dalene Young?

Where did she come from?

What is she doing next?

Can I start her fan club?

OMG -see this show just for her!!!!

David Loftus said...

She's terrific, isn't she? Dalene is a veteran stage actress who moved here from New York only a little more than a year ago. She's a neighbor of mine; we crossed trails walking our dogs for months and I had no idea she was an actress until we both showed up for "Tales of Ordinary Madness" callbacks. Out of curiousity, I just plugged her name into the IMDb and it looks like she may have a couple of film credits as well. For the record, she mentioned that she's been pleasantly surprised by how nice everybody is in the local theater community -- as compared to her experiences in LA. Anything else you'd like me to ask her?

Anonymous said...

Great show! The parents were great and the sex crazed friend was damn funny. Only down side to this show was the the guy playing Peter. Kind of boring character to watch and I didn't care about the character at all. All of the women were excellent. The promo for the show was new and refreshing. I must mention the great performance by Dalene Young, outstanding.

Anonymous said...

I also found the character of Peter boring and difficult to care about but I think that has more to do with the way he's written and not so much the actor playing him. The character just seems to be upstaged by the whole play.

Anonymous said...

Right. Acting has little to do with being entertained or not.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if that's true or not? I haven't seen the play so I leave it to debate, but I question whether the author set out to make his protagonist annoying and unlikeable. If you don't want to blame the actor fine,but isn't it at least possible that he, and maybe even the director are partly responsible for this animosity? I don't know the actor or his work so I'm just stirring the pot for debates sake, but doesn't the actor have some resonsibility in making his character interesting?

Anonymous said...

Wait - did someone say he was annoying and unlikeable?

I've seen "boring," "difficult to care about," and "upstaged by the play."

That's a far cry from annoying and unlikeable.

Anonymous said...

The Oregonian liked him:

"The starting point of both the humor and the pathos is in the eyes of Brian Allard, whose expressions of befuddlement, sheepishness, concern and exasperation make Peter -- a "tired man-sponge" who accommodates the lost souls around him at the cost of his own way -- into a highly sympathetic slacker Everyman."

Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by the conceptual oppositions people have posed here. Personally, I don't find "annoying and unlikeable" rules out "entertaining." The same can be true of the reputed inspiration for this play, Charles Bukowski. For the record, though I did find Allard's character a bit difficult to comprehend as written -- why would a guy with so much going for him be such a slug for so long? -- I thought Allard did a great job with a difficult role that called for a kind of quiet suffering and dignity while there is so much loud craziness swirling around him. Other high points of this show are the parents played by Michael Chambers and Dalene Young.

Anonymous said...

Boring rules out entertaining, anon.

Anonymous said...

people just have different tastes I guess. i thought allard could have made a few more dynamic choices in his character. doesn't mean his performance was bad, it just didn't do it for me personally. on the other hand i was totally knocked out by young's character. wow.

Anonymous said...

Okay, 1/31/2008 07:20:00 AM here again. I’ll give this one more shot. You may not like to be bored, but boredom does not rule out excellent theater, either. Peter is a slacker. Unlike the traditional hero, who has virtues and flaws around which the play revolves -- someone who generates audience interest by making things happen -- Peter is an Everyman at a bad point in his life. I can remember a time or two in my twenties when I had lost a job, or was about to lose one, and I felt very much the way Peter looks and acts in this play. He’s the “dead center” around which the rest of the craziness revolves. However, more like a traditional hero, he does have a dramatic arc -- a comparatively small and subtle one -- and he combines several elements in his life (a crazy plan to get his old girlfriend back, the obsessive do-gooderness of his mother) into a new life choice. I may not agree with it, or even understand it, but I could see it. I think this character was a very difficult one to play, as written, and that Brian did an admirable job with it.

Anonymous said...

I finally saw this show this weekend, and I had a really great time. I'd even consider going again if I was free this weekend.

My only complaint was that they didn't give any of that beer to US. Not even on sale!? I mean, a show this based on beer should at least be selling some in the lobby.

Congrats to the (LARGE - how do they fit in there?) cast and crew on a job well done.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the show last weekend and Brian Allard does a very good job of trying to anchor a play that almost constantly derails itself. Some of this is the script, some of this is the directing, but Mr. Allard usualy gives a much needed humanity to all the chaos.

There is a lot to enjoy and savor in this show; some great scenes and speeches certainly, but these moments are greater than the sum of the play's parts. Clocking in at almost two and a half hours, there are plenty of high and lows (on the edge of your seat one minute and flipping bored through your program the next) but you end the ride with a general feeling of "huh? What was that all about?" Coconuts to Chechnya I guess.

Yes the parents are both lovely. Terrific actors in the two best written roles. But the always capable Shuhe Hawkins and Melissa Whitney struggle valiantly with unpleasant characters that are hard to care about and just really don't make a lot of sense. Why does she go back to Peter after leaving him in the first place? What changes? And why should we care about this unhealthy relationship in the first place? There is no thread there. And is Midge looking for sexual fulfillment or emotional connection? His central obsession and motivation seems to change at the author's whim. And I know it's all Eastern European but what's with all the misogyny? Women (at least the live ones) certainly get a bad rap in this show. I presume it was no accident that the Mannequin was one of the more believable humans in the play and certainly the only pleasant, compassionate female. Seriously, it was like watching Pinter or Mamet. Not all women are manipulative soul-sucking bitches you guys.

Some plays can get away with parading huge numbers of characters across the stage without everything digressing into chaos. I'm thinking of Six Degrees of Separation as a recent example. But this in not one of those plays.

There is a lot of very good acting on the stage, but I disagree with the followspot review. I would not say that it is all consistently of a high level or that the play is at all flawless. With countless beer bottles, leaves, hair, blood, newspaper clippings and God knows what else littering the stage, this has to be the messiest show in recent memory. Maybe that's a metaphor? The play is a mess; an often fascinating mess with a lot of talent and energy behind it, but a long, chaotic mess just the same.