Friday, March 4, 2011

equus review

Paternal? How about creepy?

We got our Denver Post review out finally, and it looks pretty good overall. John Moore felt the staging of the horses seemed a little cramped due to space constraints (six guys in hooves and horse heads are bound to take up some room, so, yes.) But he really loved Zuni (Jose Zuniga) the tremendous actor who plays Alan:

And on the tiny Vintage Theatre stage, Zuniga is very much a boy. Gangly, gawky, not yet filled in. And performing a role that is intensely vulnerable — clothes on or off. He's awkward, emotional and fires off a cool, enigmatic glare that could freak you out for days. You know, like most 17-year-olds.

And I don't think I've ever had the word 'paternal' associated with the words 'Kurt Brighton' before. So I must be getting better at acting, haha:

That's due in large part to Zuniga and his warm chemistry with Kurt Brighton as Martin Dysart, the emotionally dead shrink who tries to unravel why Alan did it. As he coaxes Alan into opening up about the mutilation, Dysart battles his own strange feelings of envy — for Alan has experienced a kind of passion Dysart knows he never will.

This requires a calm, measured and even paternal performance, which Brighton (an occasional freelance theater reviewer for The Denver Post) delivers with a strong hand and soothing voice, often speaking in withdrawn whispers that could drown out shouts.

John also had kind words for the rest of the cast as well, indicating to me (if you read between the lines) that he felt that overall the show was pretty top-notch. I had a conversation with some people who saw the show last week who said something like (I paraphrase) 'There was no one person who took you out of it, who seemed out of place.' I think this sentiment is echoed here:

Bond gets strong supporting turns from Theresa Dwyer Reid as Dysart's confidante, a forceful Libby Rife as Alan's don't-blame-me mum, and the two competing objects of Alan's intense sexual desire — Caitlin Tomlinson as the first girl to show a sexual interest in him; and Zach Stowell as a man-horse called Nugget.

I'm very proud of this show, and I've been overwhelmed by the response people are having to it. The response feels honest, emotionally exposed and raw. You can do a few shows and start to get a feel for when people are gushing over the show, or if they're 'gushing' over it, and in this case, it feels like an genuine, gut-level response without pretense or trickery.

What I mean is that in responding to theatre, whether it is in your seat without saying a word, or in talking with the cast afterward requires the use of very different muscles than most of us are familiar with employing. If it's done right, it is visceral, real, threatening and raw-edged with emotion. You can crap all over a Matt Damon film without any real fear that he will hear your opinion. But when you see a play, your feelings are on your face, and in your heart and hard to hide.

And when you speak with actors afterward, you'd better be a damn good actor yourself if you think you're going to fool them.

I don't feel like anyone has felt the need to try to fool us with this show. Hope you get a chance to come and see it!

Also, here is David Marlowe's (Life on Capitol Hill and Out Front) review:


Vintage Theatre (2/18 – 3/20)

Craig Bond directs Vintage Theatre’s production of “Equus” with the eye of a poet and the touch of the master. Under his astute direction Bond has not only cast the show well, he has brought in Jonathan Scott-McKean to embellish the production with the genius of his lighting and sound designs.

Peggy Morgan-Stenmark’s set design uses every inch of the stage. Her work provides an imaginative labyrinth that is as practical to the actor as it is aesthetically pleasing to those in attendance.

Jose Zuniga is outstanding as Alan Strang, the young man who has committed a hideous crime. Zuniga’s performance is of the stunning variety. Zuniga does more than get under our neural fingernails. This young artist is a force of nature. Kurt Brighton does some fine work in his performing of the role of Dysart, the psychiatrist who takes on this case. Theresa Dwyer Reid is brilliant as magistrate Hester, Dysart’s colleague and good friend. The studied performance this actor gives moves fluidly from the urgency of soliciting Dysart’s help with the Strang case to one of staunch support as the psychiatrist slips more and more into despair. Libby Rife plays Alan’s mother Dora, a woman who has replaced the sex in her marriage with religiosity. Andy Hankins plays Frank, Alan’s sexually frustrated father. Caitlin Tomlinson portrays Jill. Roger L. Simon is Mr. Dalton, the owner of the stables at which Strang works. Preston Lee Britton, Addison Parker, Stephen Paulding, Nathan Raymond, Zach Shotwell and Jim Wills portray the horses. I have been told that the gorgeous metallic horse heads came from California and the hooves from Texas.

Vintage Theatre is showing us that we needn’t go to Broadway for outstanding serious drama. We can have our souls shredded by the breathtaking artistry over at Seventeenth Avenue and Vine Street. Vintage Theatre has run for the roses and landed right smack dab in the winning circle! And yes … there is nudity and adult subject matter. Any lover of serious dramatic theatre must see this show.

Not to be missed!!!!!!

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