Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Glorious Ones

photo: Joan Marcus

Seemingly intended as a valentine to the actors' life, the latest Ahrens-Flaherty musical (which concerns a 17th century commedia dell'arte troupe nearing the end of their run) is reasonably enjoyable entertainment with at least a handful of good songs (and at least two with overly generic lyrics that seem like cabaret-bait). But it's slight and ultimately unsatisfying for many reasons. For one thing, it lacks dramatic tension until almost halfway through its one hundred minutes, when we're made to understand that the public has lost its taste for the troupe's bawdy improvisational comedy and now demands more poetic entertainments. For another, we rarely get a sense of the troupe improvising anything, so we have to take that on faith: what we do see is the troupe's vulgarity, as if that's funny on its own. Although most of the members of the ensemble each get a chance to shine (the brightest among them is Julyana Soelistyo, who redeems her potentially precious character) the show is more than anything a sensational showcase for Marc Kudisch. As Flamino Scala, the troupe's charismatic and vainglorious leading man and leader, Kudisch is a complete joy to watch: everytime he throws open his arms and extolls the heaven of performing theatre for the people, we're swept up in Flamino's passion and romance. Kudisch is what's truly glorious about The Glorious Ones.

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