March 2016


SPT Goes to “The Other Place”

Very little is what it seems to be when we first meet the fascinating Juliana Smithton, the protagonist in Sharr White’s “The Other Place”. She appears to be a successful, fifty-two year old scientist, pitching a new drug that may successfully halt dementia. Juliana presents a crisply moving Power Point at a pharmaceutical convention in Saint Thomas. The narrative line quickly pulls the rug out from underneath the audience as we begin to shift to multiple times and places all involving the woman’s increasingly fragmented life. Mysteries pop up with increasing frequency, providing an intriguing maze of a plot line, but the real focus of the evening is the powerhouse performance by Amy Thone, assuming the scientist’s role for the Seattle Public Theatre.


Mrs Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw

Conventionally Unconventional

When the Victorian version of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” is ignored between a mother and daughter, and the wealth, which paid for the daughter’s expensive education, comes from prostitution and pimping, all hell break’s loose in George Bernard Shaw’s play Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Directed by Victor Pappas, Seattle Shakespeare Company opened this delightful play at Center House in Seattle Center last weekend


‘Luna Gale’ Spotlights Fraught Daily Dramas

Caught between the Headlights & the Headlines

Rebecca Gilman says it took her 10 years to find the plot for Luna Gale. From the performances of the extremely talented cast directed by Braden Abraham at The Seattle Rep, one can see why. This play is written from the lives of overworked social workers, young, earnest parents hooked on crystal meth, plus rippling entanglements with parents, courts, and Christians. All considered, ten years is pretty fast.

The plot Gilman found follows Caroline, a veteran social worker in Iowa’s Department of Human Services as she deals with a single case out the 80 she’s assigned.


The Reckoning, Pecora for the Public

Government of the Banks, for the Banks and by the Banks

The above quote appeared in a Wall St. Journal article, during the 1933 United States Senate Banking Committee hearings, which investigated the role that the Wall Street head honchos played in the 1929 stock market crash. The investigation as well as the lead investigator, Ferdinand Pecora, was the subject of a world premier, The Reckoning, Pecora for the Public, at the Alhadeff Studio Theatre at Seattle Center, this weekend. Enthralling was one adjective which sprang to mind, along with extremely topical. When I was not laughing, I felt intense moral outrage, as well as feeling that it was the best one-person show I have ever seen. Possibly it is the best solo play ever written.


‘Voilet’ Sings to what it Means to be Beautiful

Violet is a 2014 Broadway hit that Director Andrew Russell has stripped down to the ‘bone’ for this run at ArtsWest. The title character Violet (Brenna Wagner) has hopes that a TV faith healer in Tulsa, Oklahoma will heal her face. It was scarred in a freak accident. The creators—Brian Crawley wrote the lyrics and book to Jeanine Tesori’s music—respect the audience and leave it to us to imagine the scar. They had to assert themselves throughout the long development process, but as Crawley notes, “We weren’t about to drive a bus onstage, why not leave the scar to the imagination as well.” Russell followed the spirit and with scenic designer Christopher Mumaw kept the props and furniture to the barest minimum. What’s left is a musical examination of one woman’s vulnerable search for healing and acceptance with little else on stage to distract your attention.


Explosive Assassins Hits ACT Stage

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the works of Stephen Sondheim. I loved Into the Woods and admired Sweeny Todd and pretty much accepted most of his other shows as fine pieces of musical theater, though maybe not my cup of tea. Where I drew a line was with Assassins, a play I have avoided seeing. Perhaps because I am old enough to remember the deaths of John and Robert Kennedy and Dr. King, I wanted nothing to do with an entertainment that focused on the killers and would-be killers of presidents. This is what I learned on opening night of Assassins at the ACT: It is a fantastically entertaining play; and it is as timely and important now as any show could possibly be for the American theater.

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