Friday, September 24, 2010

Will Call: Tips & Tidbits for the Theatrically Inclined

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 1:45 PM

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I'm grumpy. I can only make one show this weekend and there are three I really want to see.

The Hattiloo is working its way through the August Wilson canon, following a spectacular Fences, and a sloppy Piano Lesson with Joe Turner's Come and Gone, the second installment of the playwright's Pittsburgh cycle. Joe Turner looks at life during the "great migration" of the early 20th Century, when African-Americans abandoned the South in vast numbers looking for jobs and a better life in northern industrial cities.

A Delicate Balance, one of my favorite plays by Edward Albee opens on Theatre Memphis' Next Stage this weekend. Albee has been in heavy rotation lately, with productions of The Goat or Who is Sylvia, Seascape, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

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Karen Mason Riss (l) as Agnes and Bennett Wood as Tobias perform in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance at Theatre Memphis, September 24 — October 10, 2010.

A Delicate Balance couldn't be better named. The wordy drama about appearances, and the toll they can exact, can play out like stiff clash of bon mots and platitudes. Or like an absurdist mashup of Pinter and Chekhov: The adult heir of Albee's early experiments in surrealism, The Sandbox, and The American Dream. This one's directed by Jerry Chipman and with an who's who cast that includes Pamela Poletti, Karen Mason Riss, Barclay Roberts, Christina Wellford Scott, Ann Sharp and Bennett Wood.

OOVs production of Santa Claus
  • OOV's production of "Santa Claus"

I'm probably going to pay a visit to Our Own Voice's Ephemera (You Can't Do that Again), a revival (of sorts) of one of this risk-taking company's most popular creations. The satiric comedy about the Memphis theater community was created to celebrate OOV's 10th season, and has been re-tooled for the 20th. Like the original it will have "music, dance, images, improv and social commentary."

The original production featured a grade-school-aged Bennett Foster of the Magic Kids as a very small version of Playhouse on the Square founder Jackie Nichols.

There's also a theater critic named Sivad. I think it's an anagram. And a metaphor.

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