Monday, March 23, 2009

The Illusion

Public Playhouse **Photo credit: Roger Nelson**
March 6 - 28, 2009

Review by peanutduck

Ron Daum has molded a well-grounded, cohesive ensemble that, under enchantments of tantalizing sorceress Lisamarie Harrison (Alcandre) and Vince Camillo, her hawkish, scuttling amanuensis, flirts and claws through script’s tarted-up yawn about that illusory fiend, love. Dustin Milberg, the foppish, twitchy Matamore, a scene-stealer. Enough with the mimed erections, orgasms.


goratgo said...

Saw it Sunday. Absolutely worth seeing for "The GOOD" (see below). Visually stunning. So much potential. Could have been a great show, perhaps with a bit more time.

THE GOOD - Costumes, sets, lights, sound (eeeeeerie & creeeeepy yet somehow adictive sound), the story (albeit a bit hard to follow and not sure I completely understood it but what the hey, I am still thinking about it), Vince Camillo (he plays two parts and one is so disturbing and wonderful, the other....well.... hmmmm? but props for the distrubing), Dustin Milberg (I found myself wanting to sing "the unreachable star" or "moon", as it were. very funny, so focused and committed to the language, a hard role, well performed), Ileana Herrin (nice transition throughout, very focused, and just oh so fun to watch), Galen Schrick (a great role, gently approached, and beautifully brought full circle. my heart just melted for him at the end). There are some young players in this cast and while their youth and inexperience does show at times, absolute props for tackling a very difficult piece. I give these young'ens a combined "b+" and will watch them with great anticipation.

THE "EHHHHH: WHAT COULD HAVE MADE THE SHOW GREAT, ONLY IF" - Direction, direction, direction (such talent on stage, such beauty, such iffy direction. but, like I said, a very hard piece. not terrible, just lacking. a "c" for effort), schtick versus comedy (it is a fine line and easy to lean on schtick by not committing. the foppy young rival lover, while funny, a bit too schticky for me, but maybe it falls to the direction note above), the magician (a beautifully written part for a man or a woman. while beautiful to look at, her performance was flat, sloooooooow, and left me wanting. the mimed erections and orgasms that the reviewer eluded to did not bother me but the self-gratification of this actor did. again, might fall to the direction note above, but with her list of credentials, she should have known better).

"The good" of this show far outweighs "the eh". There is a twist ending that will make you re-think everything!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job all around.
Direction was far superior than stated in the previous posting's grading system which made it sound like he/she was the professor for this project.
Not being a theater person am I incorrect in assuming that not only does the director cast the show but also approves all the things that the previous poster liked and disliked about this production? If your "heart melted for" a character at the end of the play isn't that because of the "gently approached" direction AND the actor that he cast?
Well opinions I suppose are like noses. Everyone has one.
I, on the other nose, loved the direction, the woman playing the magician (luminous), the costumes, lighting and the set but found Milberg's performance insufferable and incredibly self-indulgent. He was so distracting and over the top that it seemed like he was in a different play.
I also look foward to seeing all the Illusion's young actors in future productions.
We had a wonderful evening at the theater. Thank you Public Playhouse and your talented director and cast

B said...

The previous two commenters read like they really liked the show, but feel they need to say something negative in order to be taken seriously.

On the contrary. You merely reveal yourselves.

The direction was spot on, Dustin Milberg was astounding, especially as I had only ever seen him play "straight" roles before, this was a true delight. OF COURSE he seemed "like he was in a different play" OF COURSE he was "indulgent" - were you paying attention? That was the CHARACTER he was playing.

And Lisamarie Harrison was just GORGEOUS in this role, and I don't just mean her looks. She wasn't "slow," she was methodical, as the character called for. She was hardly self-indulgent. She was beautiful, mysterious, powerful and just lovely. Vince Camillo gave a drammy-worthy performance, as well.

I was a bit unsure of the foppish choice for the rival, thought it might have been a bit more interesting to play him strong in the final 2/3 of the play, but that's a tiny quibble. The choice worked well enough.

So. Too bad you missed it.

jerryketel said...

It is a shame that the run of The Illusion is over because I would challenge the reviewers above to look at the play as an homage and parody of 15th century theater.

Tony Kushner's adaptation of Pierre Corneille's 1636 comedy is, in many ways, a play about theater itself. And as Sandra Martin Lee of has stated, it exemplifies Kushner's concept of "the art of the difficult".

As she says, "Kushner believes that 'playwriting... is dialogic and dialectic, and is fundamentally always more about an argument than it is about narrative progression.'"

It is easy to see from this perspective that the director, Ron Daum made some pretty shrewd choices in casting and direction. His choice to make the comedy broad and the Magician "self gratifying" and more subtle in her exchanges with the father, were in my opinion spot on.

This was a play that needed to be seen more than once. During the first performance, I found Milberg and Herrin to be quite funny and perhaps even highlights of the show. Upon the second viewing, I was much more mesmerized by the smaller and deeper moments, like the simple gestures of the Magician manipulating her servant and the stage, the quiet strength of the son, the fine-drawn expressions of the father (my apologies, I can't remember the names of all the actors and I don't have the program--please post this online).

There was much to like about this production, it was a satisfying assembly of stage craft, acting and direction of a somewhat difficult play. My regards to the director, the actors and the entire production company.

One last thing, Lisamarie Harrison continues to surprise in her newfound dramatic career. Her coming out during defunkt theater's "wish" was nearly a shock. But it seems as if she has found new life by shedding her musical theater vocation for much more challenging roles—and it is the audience that is reaping the reward.


PS. If you have the balls to write a review, please post your name as well.

Anonymous said...

Well that way we know if someone's boyfriend is reviewing their show or not.

B said...

No harm in that. The man can have an opinion.

I, by the way, am not the boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, grandparent, or pet of anyone in the cast, crew or staff.

So there.

Anonymous said...

my mom thinks i'm wonderful too. so there.

Anonymous said...


is your argument that you are NOT wonderful, and therefore your mom is wrong?