Monday, April 4, 2011

New Theatre: The Radiant (reviews)

New Theatre opened its production of Shirley Lauro's The Radiant on March 25, 2011.
The tempestuous love-torn life of Marie Curie, one of the world's first recognized woman scientists, whose discovery and isolation of radium earned her two Nobel Prizes and revolutionized science forever, as she ushered in "The Atomic Age" and the first cure for cancer.
Ricky J. Martinez directed a cast that included Angelica Torn, Hana Kalinski, Richar-John Sekaly II, and Stephen S. Neal.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Its strongest asset is star Angelica Torn, last seen in South Florida as poet Sylvia Plath in the solo show Edge. For all that the playwright gives her to work with – stubbornness, determination, single-mindedness, passion – Torn, through her craft, finds more. The actress shows us the emotionally vulnerable woman inside the fiercely focused scientist, communicating both an active mind and a racing heart
Under Ricky J. Martinez’s direction, the New Theatre production unfolds fluidly but, at least on opening night, less than impressively. Lace panels backed by blue light suggesting the glow of radium supply a minimalist backdrop for the few pieces of furniture that make up the Rob Eastman-Mullins’ stark set. Torn seemed to be fighting K. Blair Brown’s costumes...
Miscues in multitasking director Martinez’s lighting design left both the occasional actor and the audience in the dark.

And so, too often, does a less-than-compelling play about an undeniably fascinating woman.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Lauro’s world premiere about Marie Curie, The Radiant, was earnest and heartfelt Saturday. But truckloads of exposition sank this drama in a production that bounced between listless and melodramatic under Ricky J. Martinez’s direction at New Theatre.
Torn, bless her, crawls into the skin of Curie and her performance is a steady morphing play of emotions. With Martinez and Lauro’s help, she finds lovely bits of subtext. In the opening scene, she is trying to get her husband’s pension from a corrupt sleazoid of a bursar at the Sorbonne. Torn clearly illustrates Curie’s struggle to control her outrage and shame at having to debase herself to receive what is rightfully hers.

But Torn gets little help from her castmates.
How much of the problem is Lauro and how much is Martinez is difficult to know. With all its problems, the script on paper reads better than it plays here. Martinez has delivered some terrific direction over the years (Madagascar and The Glass Menagerie come to mind), but he lets his cast, even Torn, get away with shallow work in some moments, overblown acting in others.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
New Theatre is staging the world premiere of Shirley Lauro's The Radiant and to this end they imported three New York actors:  Angelica Torn, Hana Kalinski and Richard-John Seikaly.  Seikaly, just starting in the business and still non-Equity, clearly has a future in theatre; Kalinski could have been replaced for the better by any recent NWSA graduate and Torn apparently tries to show us how it's done in the Big City.  Big mistake.
...From the moment she steps on stage as Marie Curie, twice a winner of the Nobel Prize, she gives new meaning to the term “fleeting expressions.”  By intermission I was convinced Lon Chaney, the “Man of a Thousand Faces” had returned from the drag.
Local actor Stephen S. Neal is the fourth cast member, playing four roles with his usual aplomb and accents while Angelica Torn, as a woman born in Poland and a French citizen, strangely uses only straight American except for one muttered “Mon Dieu” and is so totally unsympathetic it seems strange that any man would want to bed her.  Hana Kalinski, as Marie Curie's simpering niece, makes a pass at something European, and Richard-John Seikaly, well cast as a turn of the century lover, starts off well in the French Accent Handicap, but fades at the finish.
...The Radiant ...deserves more for its world premiere than is provided by Director Ricky J. Martinez and the New Theatre.
The Radiant plays at New Theatre through April 17, 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment