Sunday, April 22, 2012


            Left to Right in back: Timmi Ann Lasley, Teresa Reid and Lauren Bahlman
            Left to right in front: Cathy Washburn and Cassidi Leigh Parker

Michael Emmitt and Spark Theatre are to be praised for creating the only twenty first century theatrical ‘salon’ in Denver. It’s up close and personal in-your-face drama that, in this case, puts you front and center in the living room of the Prozoroff sisters. With his entirely female-driven reworking of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” Emmitt elicits superb performances from a mostly new (to this reviewer anyway) cast. The absent male characters are seen – and voiced – by the three sisters. Sometimes they are present in the form of a prop such as a military cap and there is one male voice briefly voiced over an in-theatre speaker. Led by Denver favorite Teresa Reid in a sublime portrayal of Olga Prozoroff, this cast brings to life a poignant and layered production of this Russian masterwork. Ms. Reid displays a classical control in her expression of the character, which is brilliant. In Emmitt’s tight, almost claustrophobic staging in the upstairs room used by Spark Theatre, one can feel the heat of the conflict between the rising proletariat and the declining nobility in personal as well as societal terms. Timmi Ann Lasley’s portrayal of Natalya is powerful indeed! Seldom in the experience of this reviewer has an actor playing this role been able to swing realistically from the downtrodden humiliation of her character at the top of the play to the shrill, domineering shrew later with such brilliant aplomb. One feels a sort of pity for her early on, amidst the degradation of Olga’s sometimes veiled and nearly always disgusted glances. By the second act one wishes to bitch slap her (Olga) for her horrifying abuse of the old servant, Anfisa, played here by Cathy Washburn. Cassidi Leigh Parker and Lauren Bahlman play Irina and Masha respectively. Both of these young actors turn in worthy performances making one wish to see them soon again at Spark and elsewhere throughout the Denver theatre scene. And even if this production is successful in its radical risky nature – and it is! – it makes one hungry for a fully orbed production involving the waltz of both sexes, and the smoke from Chekhov’s pipe wafting in from the other room. (One is still able to smoke offstage. Right? ) One must add that the costumes by Melinda Lacy are truly divine. The sound design created by Gabriel Walker was by far the best to have been experienced at this venue. Emmitt has appointed the room beautifully with a sitting area and dining room table which provide a balanced, ordered and harmonious setting for the Prozoroff sisters to long and long and long for their own personal Moscow. It’s a good thing they didn’t get a chance to see “Waiting For Godot.” It would have only depressed them. This is a worthy production that is… 

Not to be missed!

April 21st thru May 19th
Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays
Shows Start at 7:30pm
240 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80209

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