Thursday, Sep 19, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 36 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 

 

Speakeasy Speed Test

 
 
click to go to advertisers website
 
Strong cast but uneven script in Rock 'n' Roll
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Strong cast but uneven script in Rock 'n' Roll

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Rock 'n' Roll
ACT Theatre
Through November 8


It can sometimes be difficult to understand the plays of acclaimed British playwright Tom Stoppard. Rock 'n' Roll, despite its populist title, is a steep climb. The production side of the play, at ACT Theatre, is a vibrant, vigorous dance, with strong actors and powerful emotions. The script side is didactic (intended for instruction) and full of polemics (the art of controversy). The two do not mesh very well.

The script dwells on the political suppression of dissent in the Czech Republic from 1968 through about 1990. Jan, a Czech student at Cambridge, goes back to Prague with only his large collection of rock and roll records. We are to believe that the possession of these "Western" recordings is a revolutionary act. Jan (Matthew Floyd Miller in an intense but overly genial characterization) seems to feel that the records are an expression of ultimate freedom unavailable to the everyday Joe in Czechoslovakia. Much of the audience may not remember or even know that rock music claimed to be the savior of the earth back in the day.

Jan stays home and doesn't want to get involved when his friend comes by with petitions to sign. Eventually, his record collection does get him in hot water. He is arrested and jailed, presumably for some sort of political sedition (incitement of rebellion against a government). His collection is trashed in a highly stylized and effective technical feat.

There is a parallel family in England that intersects with Jan and his beliefs: Max, an ardent Communist professor, his wife Eleanor, a professor of poetry, one guesses, and the young daughter, Esme, who is in love with Jan and keeps a torch lit for him when he leaves England. Max (Denis Arndt) is the voice of the idealist, the Communist who believes in the purity of the ideal regardless of how ugly reality gets in the Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc. He never stops believing that communism can still be the pure concept of "everyone performing to his ability, everyone given according to his need." The political manifestations are not a barrier to his stubborn, persistent belief.

Eleanor (Anne Allgood) teaches the poetry of Sappho, the classic Greek love poetess. Yet, she teaches in a rigid, intellectual style. We meet her after her first bout with cancer, when she has already had a mastectomy. Shortly after the play begins, she loses her battle. Allgood has the most devastating emotional moment in the play as she struggles with cancer and her fear that her husband is just waiting for her to die. Max does his best to reassure her, but it's an intellectual kind of reassurance.

This is the dichotomy of the play: the "machine" of the brain versus the heart/feelings. Sappho and the Gods, and Pan, who seduces with music, versus rationality of controlled thought. The trouble is that the play tries to tell that story so intellectually that it leaves a significant amount of the audience behind or frustrated. Stoppard also repeats himself three, four or five times in the first act. The play is filled with dialectic (interaction of conflicting ideas) dialogue. The second act is easier to follow, though the all-too-happy ending after all this intellectualism feels completely overdone.

This Stoppard play is only a couple of years old, though you wouldn't know it from the subject matter or how it's handled. It's also over two and a half hours long.

Director Kurt Beattie, as usual, has chosen outstanding actors for the cast, and they all work together like clockwork. Denis Arndt is the glue that holds them all together, though Matthew Floyd Miller seems to have the main role. Matthew Smucker, also as usual, provides an exceptional, versatile set, though an awful lot of it comes up from below, which can be distracting. Carolyn Keim's costumes are beautifully era-appropriate and Mary Louise Geiger pools the light on stage into spots of intensity. But the main accompaniment to the entire production, not surprisingly, is the sound by Brendan Patrick Hogan, since he has to put together a vast arsenal of rock and roll classics, some of which whine tinnily from an onstage record player, and others that blast the audience with walls of sound.

For more information, go to www.acttheatre.org or call 206-292-7676.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Five questions for Stephen Sondheim
------------------------------
Seattle's Boylesque 101 bump and grind graduates
------------------------------
SLGFF ends with best ever lineup
------------------------------
Strong cast but uneven script in Rock 'n' Roll
------------------------------
Abe Lincoln in Illinois big and sprawling, as impressive as the man
------------------------------
Toran's water-themed concert lacked fire
------------------------------
Traviata's Sunday cast not to be missed
------------------------------
Ben Folds and the Seattle Symphony blow audience away
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Steely Dan thrills crowd with nonstop hits
------------------------------
Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! Cinerama benefit for Ref. 71
------------------------------
SLGFF presents Dennis Cooper shorts of surreal - and graphic - nature
------------------------------
Deep characters anchor Hollywood Je T'aime
------------------------------

------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------
Nashville earns its 'Music City' stripes
------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------

------------------------------
Fun with my honey and Halloween suggestions
------------------------------

------------------------------
Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
------------------------------
An Englishman In New York, one of the year's best
------------------------------
Book Marks
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Ramsey Lewis, Mitch Ryder and dance
------------------------------
The Horrors show a seamless audio assault
------------------------------
The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival's Boy Shorts
------------------------------
Hey steampunks, it's your turn for a great convention
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

 

http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2009

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News