Saturday, January 27, 2007

Revisited review from Colin Thomas

I saw Revisited by 2B Theatre tonight as the first of Intrepid Theatre's series of touring shows. After reading Colin Thomas's Georgia Straight review, I felt he'd said what I was going to say, so here's his review. My only comment: So much theatricality, so little drama.

By Colin Thomas
Publish Date: January 25, 2007
Created by Christian Barry, Steven McCarthy, and Michelle Monteith. A 2b theatre company production. At Performance Works on Friday, January 19, as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. No remaining performances
I dream of the village where I lived until I was six, and every time I do it’s like rediscovering my innocence. Similarly, Revisited, from Halifax’s 2b theatre company, evokes intense nostalgia by imagining rural life years ago. It’s lovely, but as moved as I was by this production, I’m suspicious of it. I know my nightly homecomings are about a child’s view; the play attempts to re-create a more grown-up perspective on an idyllic reality that I doubt ever existed.
Still, for a harried urbanite living in a world on the brink of environmental collapse, it’s a treat to enter a fictional space in which larks sing and the children who gaze up at the stars imagine other people doing so thousands of years in the future.
And the theatrical experience the company creates is as warm as a mother’s hand. Twenty-seven audience members sit around a large wooden table, the air lit as if by the first rays of dawn. Surely, most of us city dwellers crave community. This production splendidly realizes the theatre’s potential for providing that kind of collective intimacy.
The simplicity of the show’s theatrical vocabulary is stunning. There are only two actors. Steven McCarthy plays a young man named Tom as well as several other characters. Michelle Monteith plays the woman who becomes Tom’s love. When McCarthy enters as the narrator, he takes a handful of dirt from a small sack and then, sprinkling a line of it on the table, says, “Here’s Main Street.” Another line becomes the railroad. A pile of dirt is the graveyard. Director Christian Barry’s lighting design, which is gorgeous throughout, provides tiny squares of illumination when specific houses are mentioned. Richard Feren’s masterful sound design all comes through an old-fashioned radio.
You couldn’t ask for better actors, either. Both performances are as simple and gorgeously ordinary as ponds. Monteith inhabits intense emotion without for a moment looking false.
The first two sections, which show us the village and Tom’s romance, work beautifully. The third passage, which deals with death, is less successful. In Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, which this play closely resembles, the dead harshly criticize the inattentiveness of the living. Here, the perspective of the dead is defined less well and the play feels philosophically underage as a result. Perhaps it’s the absence of existential brutality that makes me wary of all of this beauty.

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