Wednesday, August 25, 2010

GableStage: Fifty Words (4 reviews)

FIFTY WORDS by Michael WellerGableStage opened its production of Michael Weller's Fifty Words on August 14, 2010.
When their young son is away on his first sleepover, a married couple has their first night alone together in years. Will they renew a vital spark that's been nearly smothered - or will provisional civility explode into fiery chaos? An expansive look at modern marriage that is alternately funny and frightening.
Joe Adler directed Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner.

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

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
I cannot be exact, because I was too enthralled by the play to take my usual notes.
Even if Weller's words don't resonate with you, it's hard to believe that Schmidt and Weiner won't. Smooth as some of their lines are, there is very little smooth about them. Weiner treats the stage like a precipice, with bad falls in every direction.
Weiner is a brilliant actor, but this kind of fence-sitting ambiguity isn't usually his thing. It is Schmidt's thing, and director Joseph Adler  should be commended for dragging his actors in unfamiliar directions. Schmidt, who often spends her time onstage as though she's stuck in the gaps between two opposing and equally galling emotions, here seems to know exactly what she feels and exactly how to say it. Of course, what she says isn't necessarily rational.
Roger Martin reviewed for
Give Joe Adler a script like Michael Weller's Fifty Words, add actors Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner, and you'll get a ninety-five minute one act that goes by in a couple of heartbeats. You want love? You want hate? You want lust? You want weakness, strength, pride, rage, futility? Hell, you'll get just about every emotion extant when Schmidt and Weiner sit down to dinner at GableStage.
The power in this piece is not only in the writing (Weller must have eavesdropped on every marriage ever consummated) but also in Adler's direction and the performances of Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner. Weiner's stage presence is such that he fills the stage and at first you wonder if there will be room for Schmidt. But she is so strong in her own right that soon there is no doubt. They are equals. These are their words, their actions. Their relationship. This is not scripted, not a stage play. This is real. We believe.

Lyle Baskin has built the interior of an affluent Brooklyn brownstone so realistically that you want to move right in. Especially with Jeff Quinn's exquisite lighting and Matt Corey's sound.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Newly opened in an intense, masterfully acted production at GableStage, Weller's play -- laced with acute observations, astutely placed laughs and passion that turns ugly -- paints a portrait of a marriage in meltdown. For all but the lucky few, the minefields that come with living life in tandem may seem painfully familiar.
Weller, best known for Moonchildren (1971), Loose Ends (1979) and Spoils of War  (1988), gives the audience a voyeuristic view of a couple whose routine interactions are giving way to something deeper and more dangerous.
Director Joseph Adler and the two artfully nuanced actors at first keep the action low-key and real...
Roaming over Lyle Baskin's handsome brownstone set, which looks like the lair of a successful architect, Weiner and Schmidt deliver precisely calibrated performances matched by the subtle artistry of Jeff Quinn's lighting and Matt Corey's jazzy sound scape.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
...a superb opening-night performance Saturday night in GableStage’s season-closing production.
Playwright Michael Weller’s equal partners in this dissection of squirm-inducing truths are director Joe Adler, and actors Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner, all at the top of their game.

What is amazing about Schmidt and Weiner’s work is how believable their characters remain as Adam and Jan whipsaw between depths of devotion and revulsion, which would seem implausible in lesser hands.
Adler’s vision and leadership are once again exemplary. To all but theater professionals, his touch is nearly invisible, eschewing showy stage movement and histrionics that call attention to himself. His pacing is nearly perfect with each spouse beginning to talk before the other has finished their thought. You have to marvel how Adler, once again, elicits performances so riveting that two characters can sit at a table for 10 or 15 minutes and never lose your attention.
Fifty Words plays at GableStage through September 12, 2010.

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