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Friday, April 18, 2008

Barcinda Forest

To be honest, Barcinda Forest isn't ready for review or for viewing, but they've asked for both, so I'll oblige on behalf of those who come after me. The "environmental" story by Janeen Stevens is one-dimensional and hokey (think Fern Gully, only without the animation), and Barry Gomolka's staging for Original Intent Theater -- which aims to fit the problem of producing plays on a "small, relatively inexpensive scale" -- actually causes problems. Hoyt Charles uses classical periaktoi to change scenes (a nod to their mission statement to "revisit theatrical conventions"), but the actors are the ones who have to spin them around, and the crude illustrations on them -- like fourth-grade art class -- are more distracting than revealing. And although Georgien's costuming for the blue jay, deer, wolves, and spirits of the forest is color-coded, only one of the actors actually attempts at the physicality of that animal (Johnny Ferro): the rest just look like humans standing around in clothes with leaves or boas stitched on them. Finally, the choice to have the animals speak in blank verse and the two men -- land-developing Cash Cutter and his innocent, journalist son, Paul -- in prose is a good one, but one that requires precision and smoothness from the actors. Here, the two worlds -- animal and human -- don't clash so much as they bleed together, and that's why Barcinda Forest is rough.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

While Barcinda Forest may not be as polished or ready for your review, it is a play of some note for it's message and for it's presentation. Instead of looking at what's not there, you must look at what is. But I know it's hard to do that when you've never produced a show and don't know the myriad limitations and restrictions Actors Equity places on prospective producers. While I would have preferred to see this play performed on a larger space, one can't deny that what we're seeing is a bunch of actors pouring their hearts out for material they believe in. I found Ms. Stevens' play a difficult one to pull off in theory, in retrospect, and I admire her for putting out such a good production. In regards to periaktoi, having the actors move them seemed to me to be the only way to do it. That space is too small to throw another person in there to move stuff.
I also found the performances fitting with their respective creatures (or spirits). The wolves were strong and evoked a fearlessness one would expect from such an animal. Both Mr. Ferro AND Ms. Fogel seemed really detailed in their "deer" behavior. Plus, the whimsical, offbeat and mischievous nature of the blue jay was perfectly personified by Mr. Tapia. Ultimately, I found it to be a heartbreaking story--you can't help but feel for the plight of the male wolf (Mr. Liyes) or relate to Paul's (Mr. Demers) constant clashing with his father (Mr. Clark). The nature spirits (Ms. Jones & Ms. Luisi), had great presence too. Maybe someday Ms. Stevens and Mr. Gomolka will be blessed with a budget worthy of this play. But until then, we'll have to read reviews from amateurs who like to draw blood and swear that the play was the one that was bleeding.

Meg said...

Hi, your review is incredibly harsh, idiotic and pointless. I sat next to you during the show. I saw you fall asleep the minute the lights went out in the very BEGINNING of the show, and then when you finally woke-up from your nap you spent the whole time doodling on your program and rarely looked up. I remember wondering why you were even at the show. Make sure to get some coffee before you see a show, and actually watch it. You're a total loser.

Aaron Riccio said...

To Meg, the fact that you were watching me "fall asleep" and "doodle" (neither of which is true -- I write my notes in the margins of the program), says more about how little there was to watch on stage than anything else, and if you think this capsule review was harsh . . . I shudder to think what you might have read from someone who isn't used to the off-off-Broadway scene.

In response to Anonymous, while I don't appreciate your sniping at me any more than Meg's personal attack, I appreciate that you took the time to describe what worked for you. Obviously, it's different from my perception -- but I don't claim to be the end-all-be-all. Then again, I'm not an amateur either, and what I will say is that I've spent most of the last two years seeing off-off-Broadway shows, and I've seen far better acting and more "heart pouring."

To that end, I'm not exactly savaging any of the actors; simply pointing out what's holding the show back. I maintain that they don't go nearly far enough with their roles, that too many of the artistic choices are distracting, and that this show would be better served focusing simply on the text, and the text alone. (For instance, I agree that only the actors could spin those periaktoi; my point is, why use them at all?)

Sticking just with the text, perhaps Stevens can develop the show enough so that I, too, feel the heartbreak you so swear by.