Archive for November 2013

The Hound of the Baskervilles at Seattle Rep

The original Sherlock Holmes story of the Baskervilles and their hound by Arthur Conan Doyle is probably the most complex of all his works. Transferring it to the stage creates enormous problems. Not all of them have been overcome in this adaptation by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright, but Seattle Rep’s production offers astoundingly good stagecraft and fine acting.

HB_054_200

(l to r) Darragh Kennan, Connor Toms, and Basil Harris in Seattle Repertory Theatre’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, 2013. Photo: Chris Bennion.

Through brilliant sets, the audience is transported to London in the late 19th C. and then to the desolate moors in Devon. L.B. Morse, who has designed the set, lighting and projections is the star of this show. A blood red curtain welcomes the audience to the theatre. Surrounding it are walls of brick, and centered above is the diabolical head of a snarling mastiff. When the curtain opens Holmes’ study looks out over the streets of London. Morse’s production team has combed archives for period photos. Projections of them fill the stage behind the walls and furnishings of the interiors of each locale. Each scene is stunning and the transitions are breathtaking.

Director Alison Narver’s cast captures the times and the tension around which the story evolves, though Darragh Kennon, one of Seattle’s finest actors, doesn’t have the gravitas I expect Holmes to have. Perhaps that is unfair criticism. My favorite Holmes is the Basil Rathbone rendition in that 1930s movie shown so often on TV. Kennon’s Holmes is far quieter, far less magisterial. It’s hard to know whether the director or the actor sought that interpretation.

If you don’t already know this story of murder and mischief in the West of England, you might want to read a synopsis before you go. Pichette and Wright have done very well in condensing the complicated plot, but for the uninitiated it might be confusing.

Despite my carps, this is a splendid example of Seattle’s outstanding theatre community. The cast, the production team, the adapters, and the director are all local. We who love theatre are so lucky to live here.

Through Dec. 15, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle (206 443-2222 or seattlerep.org)

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical

See my review in The Seattle Times

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical

“The Underneath”

See my review in The Seattle Times.

The Underneath

Franz von Stuck at the Frye Museum

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth, and the 120th anniversary of his American debut, the Frye is offering the first major United States exhibition of the work of Franz von Stuck. Von Stuck, a member of the Munich Secessionists, was a painter particularly favored by Charles and Emma Frye who included some of his key works in their collection.

The exhibition includes these seminal canvases as well as major loans from European and American museums. In addition to the paintings are etchings, pastels, illustrations, and photographs many of which show his architectural and design concepts. His elegant design aesthetic is evident also in the frieze running just below the gallery ceilings. It is a reproduction of the one von Stuck had in his own house Villa Stuck in Munich, now a museum.

Franz von Stuck is an artist we don’t see often today. Most of his paintings are dark, brooding images. While the somewhat earlier Impressionists stood in fields and gardens, painting out of doors, capturing the brightness of the sun and the colors of the natural world, von Stuck was looking inward, painting in his studio as he explored the human psyche and the myths and religious concepts that were part of the Western tradition.

stuck-die_sunde_1908

Sin, ca. 1908
Syntonos [tempera] on canvas
Frye Art Museum, Charles and Emma Frye

Outstanding among these works is “Sin” (owned by the Frye), a depiction of a sensuous, partially shrouded naked woman with a snake writhing up her arm, around the back of her neck and facing the viewer with its fangs exposed. The imagery here shows the enormous influence of Sigmund Freud’s thinking on von Stuck.

Another compelling work on exhibit is “Lucifer.” Again the canvas is dark. The fallen angel can scarcely be distinguished, but his eyes peer out with an intensity that’s haunting. This is one of the paintings that seems influenced by two of the other intellectuals of the day, Wagner and Nietzche. “Lucifer” is on loan from the National Gallery for Foreign Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Curated by the Frye’s Director, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, this exhibition and the accompanying catalog bring a whole new and exciting level of scholarship to von Stuck’s work. Danziker’s meticulous study provides new understandings, and the exhibit presents a full range of von Stuck’s artistic and intellectual talent.

Through Feb. 2, Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave. Seattle, free admission and parking, (206 622-9250 or fryemuseum.org)

They’re Back: The Atomic Bombshells Nov. 13-16

I rarely do previews, but since this burlesque group will be here for such a short time, and because it already has a loyal following in Seattle, it seemed appropriate to let you know they will celebrate their tenth anniversary performing here with a four night stint at the Triple Door. The production is billed as a sci-fi spectacular called “Lost in Space.”

Their producer-performer Kitten LaRue describes the show as a retro sci-fi excursion with ’50s music. One feature will be Honey D. Luxe’s tribute to Barbarella in which she manages to wear, then take off every costume Jane Fonda wore in the movie. There’s also a number in which the rings of Saturn play a significant role.

The show integrates burlesque with dance, drag, and theatre, and, of course, it’s camp of the highest order. Filled with glitz as well as glamour, I expect it will brighten things up now that the dark days of autumn are upon us.

Nov. 13-16, The Triple Door, 216 Union Street, Seattle, (206 838-4333 or www.tripledoor.net or http://on.fb.me/1bPY5Tm