Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Outstanding Weekend of Bay Area Theatre
Friday night I went to see Three Sisters by Anton Chekov at The Pear Avenue Theatre. What an absolutely wonderful job they did with this extremely difficult and tragically comic play. With a new translation by Craig Lucas, Chekov's genius was channeled by these actors at the forty seat gem of a theatre in Mountain View. The thing that's tough with Chekov is that his writing provokes deft humor and incredible sadness all at once. The actor and director must find ways to communicate Chekov's intentions without becoming over dramatic or on the other hand playing for laughs. It's a tough task, but the cast under the direction of Jeannie Forte made it happen. Three sisters is mainly a play about people who want what they cannot have. Their current life experience has brought them sadness and they all see possible happiness in other loves, but it's always just beyond their reach. This theme echoed brilliantly throughout every moment of this production. Bravo, to The Pear once again.
Sunday I took a short ride up to The Geary Theatre in San Francisco to see A.C.T.'s touring production of possibly the greatest musical ever written, Sweeney Todd. Usually I leave a play and feel sad, amused, touched or any number of emotions. But this, I believe, is the first time I have ever left speechless. I think the emotion that I felt, if it is an emotion, was stunned. Never before have I experience a theatrical event like this one. The remarkable and unique thing about this production was that the actors themselves were the musicians. Believe it or not, they acted and sang and played all the music themselves. I know this sounds impossible, but believe, me it isn't. David Hess as Sweeney was nothing short of magnificent. He was in fact the only one who didn't play an instrument. Even Judy Kaye, who played Mr.s Lovett, tooted a few notes on the tuba. From the opening moments of the show as Hess suddenly appears from a wooden coffin singing, "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.." I was captivated. His power and pathos and sense of humor along with his wonderful baritone made this Sweeney something to behold. Too bad the run is over. I believe that next they go to Boston for a couple of weeks. You can get all the details from the tour's web site.