Monday, September 27, 2010

Rising Action Theatre: Fit to be Tied (4 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened Fit To Be Tied at its new space at the Sunshine Cathedral on September 24, 2010.
A lonely young man named Arloc ties up his date because he's is in love and  doesn't want the date to leave. His mom Nessa descends upon him. A flamboyant, fast-talking, heavy-drinking promiscuous woman.  Nessa has fled her loveless marriage and, with nowhere else to go, seeks refuge with her son and his tied up date.
Daniel Goldyn directed a cast that included Tom Falborn, Kitt March, Larry Fields, and Brandon St. John.

J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Unfortunately, the company’s inaugural production in its fantastic new home marks a big step backward for Rising Action...
“Fit to Be Tied” is a relatively complex play—almost too complex and certainly 15 minutes too long—that requires skilled actors who can explore and communicate the highly nuanced characters without letting the absurd humor and slapstick completely take over.

With tight budgets, Goldyn was again forced to rely on two of his community theater-washouts from the past, Larry Fields as Arloc and Brandon St. John as Boyd. While Field delivers his strongest performance at Rising Action to date, this role is completely beyond his abilities.

As for St. John, there were audible sighs of relief in the audience when he was finally ballgagged during the kidnapping scene...
The only relief was Kitt Marsh’s Nessa, the binge-drinking mother who is nuttier than Will & Grace’s Karen Walker. And even Marsh had difficulties settling into the role, finally hitting her stride somewhere in the middle of the first act.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, and seems to have seen a different play than the other reviewers:
Tom Falborn  plays Nessa’s unloved husband too stiff and too loud, like neon-painted cardboard. Fields is an overactor nonpareil; in his Arloc’s more cynical moments, he manages to make eye-rolling seem bombastic. And as always with St. John, one gets the sense that he’s really only playing himself — high-pitched, high-strung, and full of affected pluck.

Yet it works, largely because of the hurricane-esque performance of Marsh, whose lusty portrayal gives the production an emotional anchor and narrative momentum. Her seriousness and commitment turn Fit to Be Tied into a high-stakes play.
Rising Action Theatre has aspired to camp many times, but with this play, it’s finally achieved it. Some of this has to do with the script; Silver’s curlicue-covered monologues are impossible to play subtly, and Fields’ natural high-volume delivery does him justice. But the campy loveliness of this Fit to Be Tied has much to do with fun too. Fields is having a fantastic time tying up his angel, and St. John loves mooning around Arloc’s apartment, swilling champagne in tights.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Rising Action's production... seldom serves either Silver or the audience. There are various flaws -- no one is credibly dressed for a New York winter, for instance -- but as is often the case, the show's Achilles heel lies in its casting. Director Goldyn here is working with just one decent, comically adept performer (Marsh, who brings a sleekly turned out nuttiness to Nessa), and in a four-person cast, she isn't enough.

Fields and Falborn turn in less-than-top-notch, community-theater-level performances, which is a larger problem in Fields' case since Arloc is the play's focal character.

But the real disaster here is St. John as Boyd. Though Arloc's ``angel'' is supposed to be a glorious object of desire, the actor playing him is a slim, short, balding guy whose idea of emotionally charged acting is to throw a hissy fit.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theatre Review:
If Goldyn had as much talent for creating theatre as he does theater spaces, audiences would not have to endure this train wreck of a production of Nicky Silver’s play, Fit To Be Tied.
Larry Fields remains one of the most acting-challenged performers in South Florida...  Still, Fields appears better here than in past productions, because his lack of talent is surpassed by that of his colleagues.
Brandon St. John has two speeds: flat and shrill.
Tom Falborn doesn’t get much stage time, and that’s a good thing. Carl gets some good lines, but Falborn’s dreadful, cartoonish performance strips the words of any bite or poignancy.
Aside from Jonathan Jones’ stylish scenic design, the only interesting or watchable element to Rising Action’s production of Fit To Be Tied  is Kitt Marsh. Nessa has some major moments of revelation, and Marsh deftly switches gears from venomous mom from hell to a genuine, caring, flawed woman. The realism and credibility of her performance blows her fellow performers off the stage.  
Fit To Be Tied plays at Rising Action Theatre through October 24, 2010.

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