Archive for October 2011

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Intiman Theatre produced by Seattle Shakespeare Company

Scrumptious! Magical! Enchanting!

Select your adjective. Seattle Shakespeare’s mounting of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the best I’ve ever seen. Here’s a production whose set design, costumes, lighting, and sound are so inventive that they bring whole new meaning and excitement to a play most of us have known since high school. The acting is good, as it usually is in this company’s productions, but it is the production itself that is the star here.

Kudos to Director Sheila Daniels and her team including Andrea Bush (set), Jennifer Zeyl (costumes), Ben Zamora (lighting), and Robertson Witmer (sound). I’ll describe little of their work to you. Be surprised and delighted as I was.

The play begins on a stark open stage. A bright crimson carpet slashes across the floor. An arrow-like light slashes across the backdrop. In this austere setting we meet the two couples who will have their midsummer night’s dream and the two men who cause them to run away to the forest. Then suddenly, the action shifts to that forest and the magic begins.

The play is an exploration of love in all its permutations. Couple that with fairies, buffoonery, mystery and longing and you have Shakespeare at his best. Go see it.

Through November 13, at Intiman Playhouse, 201 Mercer Street, Seattle. (206 733-8222 or www.seattleshakespeare.org)

“Evil Dead: the Musical” at Arts West Playhouse & Gallery

Art West once again offers Halloween shenanigans complete with the fake blood and internal organs. “Evil Dead: The Musical,” based on Sam Raimi’s cult movies, offers sprightly dancing, tuneful singing and an epidemic of demons.

Five teenagers seeking a fun and sexy weekend in the woods stumble into a baaaad cabin. Though it looks quite normal, it contains evil spirits waiting to be released. One after another of the innocents are transformed into flesh-eating zombies.

Directed by Christopher Zinovitch and Kim Dare, its enthusiastic cast belts out the music and doles out the horror. Watch carefully because there are some delightful special effects that deserve your full attention. But don’t expect high production values, just some blood spurting fun.

You’d be wise not to wear your best clothes; take one of the free ponchos to protect yourself. Better yet, come in costume, especially to the costume party Oct. 28 or to the late night performances on Fridays and Saturdays. There’s even a special show on Halloween Monday for those who are looking for a dose of holiday horror.

Through November 12 at Arts West 4711 California Ave. SW, Seattle (206 938-0339 or www.artswest.org)

“The Revenger’s Tragedy” at the Center House Theatre

Halloween’s almost here, so it’s the season for blood, guts and gore. You’ll find plenty of them all at “The Revenger’s Tragedy,” a Jacobean revenge play by Thomas Middleton that’s been modernized with a punk-rock overlay in this GreenStage production. Although Director Sarah E. Budge’s juxtaposition of the two didn’t work for me, it’s an extravaganza of excess designed for the young at heart. As are all GreenStage shows there is no admission charge for this, though donations are welcome. And for those of you who enjoy wallowing in the fun, there’s a seating area set aside that brings the special effects right into your own lap. The night I was there, any number of brave audience members squealed with delight as the blood spurted.

Through Nov. 12 at Center House Theatre in Seattle Center, produced by GreenStage (206 748-1551 or www.greenstage.org)

“The Cryptogram” by David Mamet at Seattle Public Theater

Cryptogram: a puzzle whose meaning must be deciphered.

Encrypted meaning, that’s what Mamet has given us in this spare, tense, autobiographical work. Unlike so many of Mamet’s plays where the language is shockingly, though cleverly, coarse, here there’s no swearing. The words are limited, repeated again, and again, yet they seem never to convey the full meaning intended by the speaker.

It’s a play about secrets and tensions, treacheries and abandonment. Ten-year-old John (Rowan Calvert), his mother (Emily Grogan), and their adult friend Del (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) wait for the boy’s father. They talk, but in this verbal dance, the partners never touch. And Father never shows. Lies are exposed, guilt is revealed. And then there’s the knife!

Sprinkled throughout the play, and adding to its puzzlement, are mystical references to the number three, a number than has significance for both Christians and Jews, though religion is not part of this work.

Director Kelly Kitchens keeps the tension high throughout. Calvert is remarkable as a suffering and alienated child, though on the night I attended he spoke too softly. Grogen and Sloniker are eerily powerful as they hold out the welcome mat to the grown-up world.

Through Oct. 23 at the Bathhouse, 7312 W. Greenlake Dr. N., Seattle (206 524-1300 or www.seattlepublictheater.org)

“Year Zero” by Michael Golamco at Richard Hugo House

The Cambodian-American characters in the touching “Year Zero” were born and socialized in the United States, but they are caught between two cultures. Their mother didn’t talk about life (and death) under the Khmer Rouge, and they didn’t ask. She survived it, but the tragedy lives on.

Months after their mother’s death, her children Ra (Elizabeth Daruthayan) and Vuthy (Moses Yim) are preparing to move. Ra to Berkeley and her physician boyfriend (Christian T. Ver), and Vuthy to a neighbor so that he can finish high school, despite the bullies there that constantly harass him.

Only when the all-knowing, muscle-man Han (Johnny Patchamatla) is released from prison, do they learn the full story of their mother’s suffering as she told it to him. Sadly his cultural background demands he pay a delayed price here in the United States.

The good acting in this production (directed by Miko Premo) captures the poignancy, humor, and sensitivity of the play. The painful past is ever present, and the price of assimilation is high. But Ra and Vuthy, as do most children of survivors, will endure.

Through Oct. 22, produced by SIS Productions at Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave. Seattle. (www.sis-productions.org or 206 323-9443)