Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spoon River Anthology
Germinal Stage Denver: 2/8 – 3/17

     All of the characters in Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” are dead and there’s not much resting in peace in the cemetery in which they reside.  Listen to the constant lament of these characters as they remember their lives.
     With his many poems Masters allows the deceased town folk to describe real life as they remember it. Many of the complaints are petty. Although there is a great deal of discontent in the memories there is the sensing of an underlying longing to be able to experience Life above ground again. Ed Baierlein has assembled a stellar cast for this project that includes:  Deborah Persoff, Leroy Leonard, Lisa Mumpton, Jim Miller, Jenny MacDonald and Michael Gunst.
Left to right Lisa Mumpton, Leroy Leonard, Michael Gunst, Deborah Persoff, Jenny MacDonald and Jim Miller

     The scenic design gives us a Halloween party decorated with orange and black crepe paper and the requisite skulls and skeletons. The conceit is that the guests have indulged in some psychic games such as a séance.  (One character is seen later playing with a Ouija board.) The members of the séance have opened a door and are possessed by the spirits. Among them is Ann Rutledge, the supposed first love of Abraham Lincoln played by Jenny MacDonald.
     The tales spooled out by Masters’ characters provide a realistic portrait of life in this small town. There is an eerie disturbing quality to the work. One very nearly starts to drift into a negative viewpoint of life because of the pettiness. However … before that occurs the possessed partygoers, who have been staggering or drifting in a somnambulistic manner between scenes … come back to conscious life in singing the rapturous praises of Nature and living daily Life in Spoon River. The scenes are bridged by unsettling songs, which start up by an unseen hand.
                                                Leroy Leonard and Deborah Persoff

    Leroy Leonard and Deborah Persoff stand out in this uniformly fine cast. Among the characters portrayed by Leonard is Willy Metcalf, a developmentally disabled person described in tragi-comic terms. Persoff  is especially funny in her tongue in cheek portrayal of a duplicitous woman who is just so surprised that her 19 year old lover killed her husband.  Later Persoff and said husband Leonard square off with disdainful glances as a married couple who have many unresolved differences from their life on earth.
       Jim Miller’s Chinaman Yee Bow, who died in Spoon River will never be able to return home to his progeny.  George Grey, also done by Miller recites a complaint about the ship which is on his tombstone that's a real highlight in this evening of dramatic declamation.

 (Spoon River Anthology is a dramatization of the poetry of Edgar Lee Masters by Charles Aidman.)

Germinal Stage Denver, located at West 44th Avenue and Alcott Street in Northwest Denver, presents
This is the second production of the theatre’s 39th season.
   Performances Friday (8:00, $21.75), Saturday (8:00, $23.75) and Sunday (7:00, $19.75) through March 17th.

No comments:

Post a Comment