Friday, November 21, 2008

Review: Director's Showcase 2008 (Night One)

The 2008 Lee University Director's Showcase kicked off its first night of shows tonight, Nov. 21. "The Worker," "Time Flies," "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," and "Trifles" were all performed on the Dixon Center stage.

The shows were excellent, considering they they were student-directed and featured all-student casts.

While I applaud the producer and director for opting to seat the audience in the traditional seating (as opposed to the limited and crammed on-stage seating), I do feel that the show was not advertised nearly as well as it could and should have been. In fact, I believe shows of prior years were promoted much more. Why this is, I've no idea.
The show opened with "The Worker" by Walter Wykes. It was directed by Stephanie Alexandrou.

Jeremiah D. Martin and Annie Clay drew the audience into their scene with increasing drama while keeping the scene fun to watch. The oddity of the show made it that much more amusing. Linsey Retcofsky's cameo as the Messenger served to heighten the tension, adding a magnificent twist to the scene.

The close of the scene, however, was abrupt. It's Wykes fault, of course, but I was so involved in the plot that the sudden ending left me desiring more.
"Time Flies" by David Ives was directed by Adam McCrary.

My favorite piece of the night, the comedy boasted strong performances from Mallory Leonard, Matthew Murr and James Williams.

Leonard and Murr worked exceptionally well together in the fast-paced show, egged on by Williams, who pulled off his role as David Attenborough with a energetic tone of light action and excitement.

While the scene could be considered a bit edgy for Lee's campus at moments, it progressed around awkward moments with poise.
Another Ives piece, "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," followed intermission.

Playing the title role, Ryan Retcofsky encored the comedic talent he so perfectly portrayed in last year's "Stay Tuned" at the Director's Showcase.

That Trotsky and Retcofsky rhyme and characteristically merge so well together is such a brilliant stroke of serendipity.

Amy Cain did well presenting the wide range of reaction her character as Trotsky's wife called for.

R. Clay Johsnon, brought even more vivid hilarity to the stage as Ramon, the murderous gardner. He excelled at capturing the accent and personality of his character.
After three comedies, the show ended on more of a somber, serious note with the performance of "Trifles," penned by Susan Glaspell and directed by Derrick Vanmeter.

While the show was compelling and thought-provoking, I feel it might have been more well-received as the first show of the evening, instead of the last.

Ben Winder, Levi Cox and Kyle Gazak wove in and out of the scene, progressing the story as Caitlin Pierson and Emily Carlisle revealed more details until a final revelation tied up the resolution.

It's interesting to note that all four shows on the first evening featured a strong death motif: The Man fearing execution, May and Horace nearing the end of their lives, Trotsky's "Groundhog Day"-esque repeated deaths, and the murder being solved in the final show.

The level of excellence exhibited in the shows, matched with the quirky play selections and the adventure of constantly-revolving characters, plots and scenes, I believe there's more than enough merit for the Director's Showcase to put on more than one night of performance for each show. At the same time, better advertisement is a must for next year.

• See more photos from the show.

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