Friday, June 26, 2009

M Ensemble: I Just Stopped By to Visit the Man (reviews)

I Just Stopped By to See the Man, by Stephen Jeffreys opened at The M Ensemble sometime in the last few days: it's hard to know when, because it's not on their website, and I can't find a listing for it. but you can call them at 305-899-2217. Be sure to remind them to update their website!

Christine Dolen somehow found out about it, and reviewed it for the Miami Herald:
Whenever Paul Bodie as a presumed-dead music legend and Christina Alexander as his on-the-run daughter are onstage, the play sings with the depth of feeling Bodie's character brings to the blues. That's the stirring part, and happily, it dominates the production of a play that was done by Chicago's edgy Steppenwolf Theatre in 2002.

What's frustrating is that the third cast member, Herman Carabali II, isn't credible as a Mick Jagger-style British rock star, which undermines a key plot point. He's also in numerous scenes in the three-character play, and he just doesn't rise to his cast mates' level.
Director John Pryor, Bodie, Alexander and the playwright himself easily hook the audience with the first scene.
Bodie gives a beautifully detailed performance as a man who finds that forsaking his passion hasn't killed it in the least.
Alexander has no trouble making the observant Della into a commanding presence.
Besides being miscast, Carabali has to fight to keep the least interesting role -- vapid rich rocker looking for his next career move -- in balance with two better-written characters. Doesn't happen.
The play's sound design and its execution are rough, but Douglas Grinn's shotgun shack set and Ann Payne-Nimmons' costumes (which make Alexander look like Pam Grier in Foxy Brown) are the real deal. And so, stirringly, are Bodie and Alexander.

I Just Stopped By to See the Man at The M Ensemble plays through July 19.

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