Arts » Performing Arts

The Comforts of Blood and Gore

A conversation with playwright Rupert Holmes



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So will it affect anything? The one I'm finishing right now is The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is again a big, big musical. It's the most epic thing I've created since Drood. What [the downturn] is going to do I can only begin to guess. I think it's going to make any large undertaking -- for a while, at least - very, very difficult. It's not a great time for big theater. It's a good time for us to be focusing on the theater that I love, which is more intimate theater.

In the last few years, the one thing that's been impossible to find is a Broadway theater. The only reason we've waited so long to take Say Goodnight, Gracie to New York is we just haven't been able to find the right theater for a one-man show. Really, you only have about five theaters like that -- and they were all booked forever. So we were going to open in March, and my guess is, knock wood, we will. But no sooner. We're not going to take advantage of other people's hardship right now.

Shortcuts to Divorce

If you're a private detective, armed with all the mighty miniaturized surveillance electronics you can offer to a suspicious and spiteful clientele, happy marriages are the chief threat to your happiness. We see this all too clearly in Drift, a mordant little satire by Jon Tuttle that opened at the Afro-Am last week in a sharp new BareBones Theatre Group production.

All seven of the performers, under James Yost's quirky direction, are keenly alert throughout the evening -- and almost always credible. But clearly the shamus, Lee, gets the tastiest lines as he tries his level best to demolish three marriages.

Lee can pour venom into a young husband's ear at a neighborhood tavern while buying him beers. Such generosity might not be forthcoming were Lee not on retainer, watching the moves of a cheating wife seducing the bartender. And when he shows a sloshed vindictive wife the fruits of his labors, Lee can impressively council his client on how she can best cash in on her legal advantage.

Bobby Tyson feasts on the role, heating up Lee's cynical philosophizing to a stand-up comedy dazzle. Marshall Case is marvelously understated as Ms. Sloshed's gracious husband, Chad Calvert is delighfully decadent as the barkeep, and Yost teams beautifully with Lorraine Larocque as the suggestible young husband and his virtuous waitressing wife.

All goes rather well until Tuttle reaches for his resolutions. The reconciliation between the young marrieds is trite, and the final confrontation between Lee and his bitchy prey is pointless and opaque. Only the nuanced, explosive scene between the sloshed wife and her indulgent husband digs deeply and meaningfully, showing us what Tuttle is truly capable of.

Definitely an auspicious beginning for BareBones' season.

NC Dance Theatre also scored impressively with its opener, Cinderella. I sort of dreaded the anticlimactic wedding between the liberated drudge and her prince. But Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's choreography was miraculously wedded to Prokofiev's beguiling score, certainly close to the apex of his achievement. After the bravura of Edgar Vardanian's solo as the Prince and Traci Gilchrest's as the Cind, Kati Hanlon's blessing of the couple as fairy godmother was magical.

Set designer Alain Vaes and costumer Christina Giannini delivered lavishly. The precocity of the young DancePlace students was as stunning as Nate McGaha's lighting. Charlotte Symphony, under David Tang's baton, was colorful and lyrical all evening long.

Additional polish is still recommended. As the bell tolled midnight at the royal ball and lights dramatically dimmed, it was embarrassing to realize that the fairy godmother had never decreed Cindy's curfew. A really puzzling omission when I recalled the tedious sequence of fairy dances that preceded her highness's first ride in her signature pumpkin.

But when I saw that splendiferous wedding scene, I couldn't help swelling with pride at the thought that NCDT will be touring with this production for years to come.

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