Uncontrolled: A review of Animal Control at the Firehouse Theatre

 

 

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As audience members stood to give Friday night’s performance of ANIMAL CONTROL an ovation, I was genuinely confused. Perhaps, like the two sides of the Notre Dame re-build situation, I felt overwhelmingly different about the play than they did. In fact, if they thought the show was deserving of such kudos, I know we were in different camps because I found it inane, boring and generally a poor production.

Since this is a short review I will deliver my observations succinctly:

I liked that all sides of the dog story were presented, giving the audience  thought provoking perspective.

In all three acts, there were characters on stage waiting for another character to appear. It felt like 15 minutes of each act was filled with script that neither provided any information about the characters nor moved the plot as the waiting commenced. That is a lot of time on stage in plot purgatory.  And it wasn’t just me that seemed to think this. The woman sitting directly in front of me took to checking her emails on her smartphone and sharing them with her husband halfway through the third act.  A man in the second row nobly fought sleep.

The play is supposed to be about people and how they behave like the dogs they are discussing. There is A LOT of talk about the dogs. Dogs are special to their owners. Discussion of specific dogs and their issues is interesting to the folks directly involved.  To the rest of us it is dull conversation. And even though I personally experienced a similar situation as the plot presents with my own dog biting another dog, I felt nothing for the characters.

I did feel sorry for the actors, however. They had to stumble through this insanely inane script, trying to bring rather one dimensional characters to life with perhaps, little to no direction. They all appeared a bit unsure of exactly what they should be doing on stage.  One actor was so choppy in their line delivery and disengaged from the other actor in the scene, that I thought they might be a last minute substitute allowed to read their lines off of a phone.

My favorite line from this play is:

“What’s taking so goddamned long?”

Because it summed up my feelings as I waited for the ending.

This play is great for people who like theatre for the sake of it and want to cheer on our local actors and new playwrights.

For more information go to the Firehouse website.

 

Mystery Seance Theatre: review of HUMBUG

 

 

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Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of being humbugged by David London at the Branch Museum. Now you can just get your minds out of the gutter and know that to humbug someone means to deceive them with a light hearted intent as in a jest or rouse. Humbuggery is all about good clean fun and so was the show I saw, HUMBUG: The Great P. T. Barnum Seance brought to the Branch courtesy of The Firehouse Theatre.

London, creator of and sole performer in  is a magician  who incorporates magic tricks into informative performance art pieces. HUMBUG engages the audience in the history of P. T. Barnum and his career in the first act then allows 12 seance table ticket holders participate firsthand in a seance using a table of London’s own design while the other audience members watch.

This show is participatory all the way. Just as the ad for the show says London regales the audience with tales of Barnum’s life and illustrious career as he passes around artifacts associated with Barnum and the acts that made his museum and circus famous (some real, some not) then there is the “spirit” connection thing. What the ad for the show fails to convey is the magic tricks that London incorporates in the first act that truly astounded me – unless of course, I really am psychic.

I was chosen out of the audience to assist with a demonstration designed to prove a connection between items associated with a person and that person’s spirit. I was asked to hold a keepsake supposedly containing a lock of hair from the beard of Annie Jones one of Barnum’s most famous bearded ladies. Then I was asked to blindly identify cards with either her picture or that of a random bearded lady. Somehow they came out 100% correct! Upon reflection I have an idea of how the trick was executed but at the time it was smooth as silk and I was, along with the rest of the audience, genuinely surprised.

I mean we were all grown-ups and knew this wasn’t real but it was good entertainment all the same. My one criticism: London could use some tweaking in the acting department. He is good enough for the average theatre goer but could be smoother as a showman. That subtle difference would have drawn me into the piece to a higher degree making my suspension of disbelief that much more salacious.

This show is great for history buffs, people who like the mysterious or folks who are simply looking for a different kind of theatrical experience.

Playing one more weekend. For more information click here.

 

 

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