Orange County Theatre Reviews

Anaheim, Review, The Chance Theater, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Politics Without The Drama : After the Revolution @ The Chance Theatre in Anaheim – Review |

Politics Without The Drama : After the Revolution @ The Chance Theatre in Anaheim – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

After the Revolution follows Emma, the main heroine of the story, as she discovers a world of political intrigue, dangerous family secrets, and an unknown future for herself and other characters.  This plot is not as interesting as it sounds.

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Marina Michelson and Andrew Puente True Image Studio

Emma is committed to social justice.  Her extremely left wing father is more than supportive of all of her endeavors and has nurtured and encouraged her commitment to change the world since childhood.  We discover early on she is the head of a fund named for her grandfather, a man who was blacklisted for his political beliefs in the 1950s.  It is also revealed Emma is working on the defense for Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is being charged with the murder of a police officer and facing a lethal sentence.  Though Emma has always presumed her grandfather innocence, she learns he was indeed guilty of passing information to the Communists.  This piece of information is utterly debilitating to her.

Fine wooden floors give this set a refined yet casual appearance of  a house, and the fact they overlap contributes nicely to multiple scenes playing at one time.  Because of this scenery the characters share space in an interesting and meaningful way.  This aesthetic beauty is one of the most noticeable high points of the show.  Yet we are not completely without character beauty when witnessing Emma’s father.

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Karen Webster, Camryn Zelinger, Robert Foran and Marina Michelson True Image Studio

Robert Foran brings Emma’s father Ben to life with sensitivity and motivation. We understand his love for both his father and his daughter, and his evident pain reveals his frustration during some pivotal conversations.  It is due to his emotion and certain moments in the play that make him one of the more fleshed out characters onstage.  

The sense of wholeness I perceived from Ben is not as evident in his daughter Emma.  The scriptwriter would have us perceive Emma as a strong and intelligent human being, but it just doesn’t come across.  I felt really grateful that the script requires the declaration of lines announcing her state of mind– “I am scared”–because otherwise I would have no idea what she was feeling.  While Emma’s motives are fairly easy to understand, she is probably the most unsympathetic person onstage, which is a problem since the show is almost entirely focused on her.  Her response to the family secret and how she deals with the vitally important task does not make her a strong contender for the “Moral Compass of the Year” award.  Instead she comes across as unreasonable and unbelievably childish.

The idea is intriguing, and the set is visually beautiful, but the lead character and the writing surrounding her is ultimately a disappointment.

6/10

April 10th – May 10th 2015 

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Anaheim, The Chance Theater, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Present & Future collide : Maple & Vine @ The Chance Theater in Anaheim – Review |

Present & Future collide : Maple & Vine @ The Chance Theater in Anaheim – Review

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Actor James McHale plays Roger/Omar

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Have you ever had a conversation with a schoolmate or a friend that focused on the possibility of living in another time, I definitely have.  This question is thoroughly and enjoyably explored in Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine.

The story follows a husband and wife, Ryu and Katha.  Briefly put, the two are unhappy with the current state of their lives.  Work is unpleasant, life is noisy, marital relations are virtually nonexistent, they simply aren’t happy.  So in the pursuit of a happier existence they join an enclosed community of people who live, eat, work, talk, dress, and overall behave as though they are eternally in 1955.  It’s an interesting premise, carried out in a fairly interesting way.  I found myself invested in the story.  I cared about what happened to these people.  And they managed to touch on all of the issues that would occur to most people considering such an excursion–not just the benefits of technological advancements, but what kind of social environment one would be subjected to?  Would a person be forced to give us certain morals?  Political ideologies?  Would one necessarily be “happier” in such a life?  Or are we in fact meant to search for happiness, no matter what time period we are in?

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Actress Jennifer Ruckman plays Katha

It is a thought provoking story.  Not just for the resurrection of the “when would you live if you could live anywhere” question that my friends and I discussed at lunch time in middle school, but I think if it makes even one person recommit to the idea that human interaction is beneficial to eternity on a cell phone, I’ll consider it a success.  At the same time, it acknowledges the progress we as a society have made.  I don’t really consider any stone unturned here, and that is one of the reasons it works so well.  There aren’t any real “plot holes” so to speak.  Perhaps questions not wholly resolved by the end, but I don’t think it’s in any way damaged for that.

The acting was decent, with everyone getting their points across fairly well.  There was a time during the first part where Katha speaks in a consistent tone of stressing every word in precisely the same way.  I think we’re supposed to accept this as a character trait exhibiting just how unchanging and depressing her life is, but it just comes across as though they don’t understand the idea of emoting or the possibility of changing inflections for different sentences.  Katha ability to speak like a human being blossoms in Act II and suddenly she is much more tolerable as a character.

Other than my problem with Katha during her modern-day-mode, the acting in the show is reasonably solid and convincing.   My personal favorite was Ryu, simply because I like that character the most, but there are a few other colorful individuals to choose from.  Set design is fine, with good use of color.  Again, the best part of this show is simply the conversation starters that pop up throughout.  It’s thought provoking and entertaining.  I wish I could recommend it to any group but there is some pretty strong language in their that might not go over well if you bring a kid with you. Still, I’m of the opinion that kids would understand the technological and social benefits of such an experiment as undertaken in Maple and Vine.

8/10

Buy tickets here:
http://chancetheater.com/production/maple-vine/

Date & Location :
September 19, 2014 — October 19, 2014

Chance Theater
5522 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92807

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