Monday, January 25, 2010

Caldwell Theatre: Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play (7 reviews)

The Caldwell Theatre Company opened its production of Lauren Wilson's Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play on January 8, after running it previews from January 3rd, 2010.
The Jekyll and Hyde story told as never before with riotous laughter and consummate frivolity. Come see Caldwell’s favorite comedic actors embody both the upper and lower class British society walking a tenuous tightrope of entitlement and depravity.
Clive Cholerton directed a cast that includes Tom Wahl,
John Felix, Erin Joy Schmidt, Angie Radosh, Amy Elaine Anderson, Wynn Harmon, Lindsey Forgey, Laura Turnbull, and Tiffany-Leigh Moskow.

The Sun-Sentinel has declined to review this production.*

John Lariviere reviewed for
Tom Wahl transitions smoothly from Jekyll to Hyde in a comic style a bit like Jerry Lewis. It is all a question of false teeth and tousled hair, but the change works—and getting there is the fun. Amy Elaine Anderson is lovely as a Rosamunda budding with repressed sensuality. Erin Joy Schmidt is funniest as the Chaplin-inspired Constable. One has to do a double take at Tiffany-Leigh Moskow in the double role of good-evil twin sisters Caliope and Penelope Throckmortonshire. She is a grown, young woman convincingly playing girls about the age of 12. Lindsey Forgey is funny as the fumbling and high strung Irish maid Ivy, and certainly turns in her share of screams of fright. John Felix has the plum role of the show as Lady Throckmortonshire.
The comedy may be a bit too broad and slapstick, however, as at times it looks like a Three Stooges movie. If it is substance you seek, you will find none in this production of Chemical Imbalance, but that is not what they mean to offer. From start to finish, this is a period farce done for fluff and fun.
Mary Damiano reviewed for
...while all hell does not break loose, and hilarity does not ensue, there are some decent laughs.
Wahl, as Dr. Jekyll and his dentally-challenged alter ego Mr Hyde, is fun to watch. He’s a dynamic performer who can do wonders even with a comedy like this, which is not up to his many talents. The play drags when he’s not on stage. But when he is on stage, scenes sing...
Moskow makes a big splash as a Patty McCormack-style bad seed and her angelic twin sister. On stage the college-grad looks like she’s 9 years old, and she and Wahl are responsible for most of the laughs in Chemical Imbalance.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Chemical Imbalance is balls-out funny from beginning to end. It is also wise, moral, and, in Clive Cholerton's production at Caldwell Theatre, brought to life by a precisely perfect cast.
(The play) dispenses with all of the characters familiar from the Stevenson joint, save Jekyll/Hyde himself (played by Tom Wahl) — I'm guessing because Stevenson's novel was exclusively a boys' club....That musty crew has been transformed into a menagerie of SoFla's most vibrant co-ed thesps...
What actress in the known universe can do frightened mortification so well as Turnbull, whose eyes grow large as moons while her voice withers into a pinched little squeak at the back of her throat? What actor could do a sloppy, slutty old grand dame with half the verve of Felix, whose every drunken swish across the stage looks like an invitation to discover Victoria's Secret in the dressing room after the show? And is there any more deadpan thesp than Radosh...?
Michael Martin reviewed for
...scenic director Tim Bennett abandons reality by providing set pieces, curtains, and props that are strictly two dimensional, establishing an almost cartoonish air. Costume designer Alberto Arroyo continues with Victorian sleeves that are so hugely puffy, they seem to require their own zip codes. Some wigs even mirror the outrageousness of Marge Simpson.
As Henry Jekyll, Tom Wahl masterfully differentiates his two characters, appropriately bestowing upon each their own idiosyncratic behavior. John Felix is perfectly ridiculous as Lady Throckmortonshire, and Wynn Harmon flawlessly assumes the second fiddle role of Xavier Utterson, Jekyll’s cousin and cohort.
Though set, costumes, and cast appear to be in sync for the making of a full night of hilarity, truly clever "funny" seems to only arrive in bits and pieces, rendering the evening a bit imbalanced, as the title implies.
Hap Erstien reviewed for the Palm Beach Post, and the ArtsPaper; he wrote two different reviews reaching the same conclusion. He was more politic in the Post, but the ArtsPaper isn't using some obscure microscopic font. I cribbed from both for this summary: wonders whatever possessed Cholerton to select this witless farce by Lauren Wilson in the first place. Brought east from San Francisco, it pours farce over the classic Robert Louis Stevenson yarn about good and evil lurking within us all, in an adaptation without much purpose or point of view.
Cholerton has again attracted a terrific cast, but few if any manage to escape the experience unscathed.
Tom Wahl plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, as well as his alter ego, the evil incarnate Mr. Hyde, a potential tour de force pair of roles, but his performances are too bland to stand out from the rest of the company
Among the game, but trying-too-hard cast is Erin Joy Schmidt as Jekyll’s Sapphic sister Ambrosia and Angie Radosh as his mom, both upstaged by the wigs Carol Marks has devised for them. John Felix is reduced to a sight gag as Lady Throckmortonshire, though the character gives costumer Alberto Arroyo an excuse to design an amusingly over-the-top frock and hat.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Despite the considerable talent involved in the production, Chemical Imbalance is to finer farces (think Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Michael Frayn's Noises Off) as a tepid sitcom is to Shakespeare.
Director Clive Cholerton and his inventive, comically adept cast try to make Chemical Imbalance as quick and buoyant as possible, and some of the laughs for which they work so hard are deserved.
The performances, though, provide a number of delicious moments -- particularly thanks to Wahl's artful quick changes from Jekyll to Hyde, involving not much more than fake teeth and mussed hair; and Felix's impeccable timing and droll delivery (please, someone, put this man in a Wilde play soon).
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
Under the direction of Cholerton, Caldwell has once again gives its audience a special fun-filled evening — this time with a farce headed by the brilliant Tom Wahl. Wahl, who makes Dr. Jekyll’s notorious strangling, potion-boiling medical man one of the most rib-tickling performances one can remember, is filled with physical comedy skills.
The entire cast must have taken “silly drinks” as it comes from behind the curtain. There are a number of zany characters, including John Felix playing Lady Throckmortonshire in drag, sounding a lot like Tallulah Bankhead on a binge...
Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play runs through February 7, 2010 at the Caldwell Theatre Company.

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