Thursday, July 30, 2009

Verve Central Productions: Still Untitled (1 review)

Verve Central Productions presented its world premiere production of Still Untitled at the Rising Action Theater on July 22, 2009. It closed on Sunday, July 26th.
Set backstage on the opening night of Tristan O’Brien’s Broadway debut, the play chronicles his reflections on life, love, loss, and perseverance, while coping with the back-to-back deaths of his mother and brother.
Playwright Matt May directed Terrance Olear, whose life experiences inspired the play.

John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The premise of Still Untitled holds promise, but its present state is in need of much examination. Structurally, the show seems like it is going to end three times before it actually does. The false endings lead to maudlin U-turns back to the deaths of the main character's mother and brother.
This next part of the review bugs me:
The use of the stage manager's voice via intercom limits the actor on stage. He acts to the intercom high over head and the pictures of his mother and brother on the wall behind him. This could be fixed by substituting the stage manager's voice with a real person in the room, such as a high-school newspaper reporter from his alma mater who has come to interview him on his opening night.
John, you're waaaaay out of bounds on this one: you're not the playwright. You're a critic. It's your job to say if it works or doesn't, but it is not your place to dictate what elements should be added. A high-school reporter? WTF?

You can make the point that a one-man show ought probably to only have one actor, and if you need to have a second actor, perhaps the one-man-show concept ought to be re-examined. But under no circumstances should you be telling anyone what made-up characters THEY should add to THEIR play.

Anyway, back to the review:
The actor playing Tristan is Terrance Olear. As it is Mr. Olear's own personal stories upon which this play is based, one would expect him to be completely comfortable in the role. On the night attended he stumbled perplexingly through almost the entire show. It seemed more a question of nerves than memorization.
The voice of the stage manager is provided by Javier Ortega. ... Ortega's timing and delivery are poor enough to be more a hindrance than an asset to Olear as an actor.
Surely May has something valuable to say, but this production of Still Untitled feels "Still Unfinished", and perhaps the premiere of this show was premature.
Despite his little faux pas with the kid reporter (seriously, WTF?), Lariviere's observations are probably worthwhile to Mr. Mays.

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