Monday, January 14, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W2: To Kill a Mockingbird, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, Choir Boy

1/09/19: To Kill a Mockingbird
A repeat visit with a friend. We were in the front row (which ended up being slightly partial view during the trial scenes due to scenic design/staging), and it was a treat to get a close look at the nuances of performance, especially when it wasn't a character meant to be in focus. I was particularly taken with Shona Tucker, who with no lines emulated fully crafted character work, as both a spectator at the trial and as Mrs. Henry Dubose's much put-upon maid (she also understudies Calpurnia), as well as Thomas Michael Hammond's Bailiff (he also understudies both Atticus Finch and the prosecuting attorney Horace Gilmer). I still have issues with some elements of the adaptation (particularly the fact that it's no longer Scout's story or journey; she's there to tell Atticus's journey), but it's a moving piece of theater.

1/10/19: Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine
What: Undine, a powerful PR entrepreneur who reinvented herself after college to remove any traces of her "ghetto" upbringing, must return home to her Brooklyn family when her con artist husband leaves her penniless and pregnant. Over the course of her gestation, she must reckon with the the lies she's told others and herself, and recognize what happiness can look like.
And? Glad I caught this before it closed. Fantastic performances, funny and moving, and a delightful showcase for the versatile cast as well as Montana Levi Blanco's costume design.

Cherise Boothe as Undine. Photo by Monique Carboni.

1/11/19: Choir Boy
What: In a prestigious private school, tensions run high in the choir between the flashy new choir lead and the homophobic legacy student.
And? To just talk about the conflict of the story is perhaps not the most interesting or compelling element to engage with. What is interesting is watching these five young men attempt to sort out who they are in the context of who they're expected to be. And, as with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney's Oscar-winning Moonlight, we're given a gentle and nuanced exploration of the protagonist's sexuality (a heartbreakingly beautiful performance by Jeremy Pope). Additionally, this play embraces its theatricality in a thrilling way, punctuating the story with the choir singing a cappella harmonies, stomping and clapping their percussion. An early highlight of the spring season.

Jeremy Pope, center, as Pharus Jonathan Young and the cast. Photo by
Matthew Murphy.

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