Thursday, October 04, 2007

Critical Acclaim

The current issue of Seven Days turns a critical eye to two plays at the Flynn this week.

Theater reviewer Erik Esckilsen says of American Machine, "...the play has an immense heart," "compelling working-class agitprop drama," and takes "a mighty swing at a formidable topic."

He writes that actor Seth Jarvis' portrayal of Ipsy is "touching" and one that shows us, "that a single character, deeply explored and well-portrayed, can speak movingly about the general 'us' by confronting the particularities of his individual condition."

Read the full review in this week's Seven Days.

Feature writer Elisabeth Crean takes a look at Weston Playhouse's touring production of “Master Harold” . . . and the boys, arriving on the MainStage tomorrow night.

"Great theater reaches across the footlights and elicits a visceral response," she writes. "This genuine stage magic is infrequent. But occasionally the alchemy of writing, acting and subject matter is so electrifying that no one experiencing it can remain a detached observer." Crean recalls how Athol Fugard’s autobiographical masterpiece "grabbed me by the throat when I first saw it 25 years ago," as a college freshman at Yale.

The play examines the changing relationship between a young white boy, his friends, and his surrogate father—a black man—at the height of South African apartheid.

In writing her story, Crean discovered that the Fugard's powerful message about racism still resonates today.

"In 2007, the play continues to connect with young people," she writes. "Weston’s 'Master Harold' received an 'overwhelming response,' says [Weston Producing Director Steve] Stettler, from its school matinee audiences—numbering more than 1,000 middle and high school students. He found that the kids readily identified with teen protagonist Hally. [Actor Guiesseppe] Jones believes “the student audiences were some of the best audiences... They get that these three guys have a wonderful relationship, and that it goes askew... And I think that’s the heart of the play.”

Crean conclude with the advice that "Readers should be skeptical of anyone christening something a 'must-see.' But there is a stunning moment toward the end of 'Master Harold'—and if you see it, you’ll know exactly which one I mean—that I can picture as clearly today as when I saw it a quarter-century ago. Fugard taught me something about myself, about how strongly I feel. It’s a rare moment in theater, or in life, that does this, and it’s one I still cherish."

Read the full preview in this week's Seven Days.

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