Emperor’s New Clothes
Written by Spike Friedman, Returning to Albert Joseph was a feeble attempt at a post-apocalyptic play, which also had dystopian elements. Although the dialogue was fairly well-written, the structure of the play was so poor that the supposedly profound message fell absolutely flat.
On the run from unnamed forces, two characters, Andrea, played by LoraBeth Barr and Leo played by Quinn Franzen, find themselves in an abandoned school called Albert Joseph, after attending a “gathering” of a subversive organization. Leo and Andrea both use a microphone to speak to the audience as well as the universe in general. Unfortunately, the setting, characters, and plot are so unspecified that the audience’s interest is not engaged. In addition, the play was just dialogue and extremely wordy. The co-directors, Caitlin Sullivan and Alex Matthews, did not add anything creative to the production and in many ways let the actors flounder.
Although Franzen as Joel, could make the script come alive, he had a small role. Unfortunately, Barr as Andrea, had more than three-quarters of the stage time, but was not up to the task; lacking the vocal skills for a script which relied solely on language. Instead of connecting with her lines, she recited them and relied on manufactured anger, manufactured intensity, shouting and shrillness. Her delivery lacked dramatic timing and vocal coloring.
In my opinion, there was about enough material for a ten minute play, but the writer kept droning on and on, repeating the same lines, throwing in extraneous material, which was never developed or resolved. As they say in theatre: less is more. Creating confusion does not necessarily mean, that what is said, is profound. Serious cuts, a clear focus and some specific obstacles for the actors to overcome could have made this a watchable play. Some comic relief would not have hurt either.
Returning to Albert Joseph. Satori Group, Inscape Art Space . 815 Seattle Blvd, ( Old INS -Immigration Jail) International District. www. satori-group.com Thurs-Sun 8 pm, plus Mon May 12. Tickets: (800) 838-3006 www.brownpapertickets. Thru May 25, 2014.