Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mosaic Theatre: Side Effects (5 reviews)

Mosaic Theatre opened its production of Michael Weller's Side Effects on September 15, 2011.
Mosaic's 11th Season opens with an intense, beautiful play which is a harrowing and unique journey, expertly plotted by playwright Michael Weller, author of Loose Ends and the seminal masterpiece Moonchildren.

Hugh and Lindy's marriage seems picture-perfect, a beacon in their microcosmic Midwestern world of dinner parties and fundraisers. But behind closed doors-doors they can barely keep shut-they're falling apart, and Hugh's rising political star is suddenly imperiled.
Richard Jay Simon directed a cast that featured Jim Ballard and Deborah Sherman. 

Watch an interview with Ballard and Sherman on WPBT uVu.  Ms. Sherman was also interviewed by Florida Theater On Stage.

John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
For roles that require immersion into the entire spectrum of human emotion, casting is everything in a show like this, and director Richard Jay Simon chose a pair of wonderful duelists in Sherman and Ballard. Behind a workingman's stubble, the latter is perfect as the coupling's frustrated, self-centered bedrock; it's a performance of unwavering strength.

But don't be surprised if all eyes are on Sherman, a revelation in the role of her career. Outside of the stage, two of Sherman's family members suffer from bipolar disorder, and her understanding of the condition shows in this unrelenting tour de force. Taking complete ownership of the role, she's able to channel conflicting mental states — simultaneously ferocious and vulnerable. She's so subtle that it's impossible to differentiate Melinda's genuine moments from her manipulations. She convincingly inhabits the same underlying characteristics whether her character is on or off her medication, never swinging too wildly in any one direction. She's a pendulum who's well aware of her center.
The show is like Melinda off her medication: exciting, unpredictable, and difficult to contain.
Chrisine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Fresh from its New York world premiere in June, the emotionally harrowing and gloriously mesmerizing play is kicking off the new season at Plantation’s Mosaic Theatre, where two highly skilled actors, an insightful director and a terrific design team are bringing it vividly to life..
...dig into the complexities of the relationship – something Weller, these two actors and director Richard Jay Simon do masterfully – and it becomes clear that Hugh and Lindy are bound by passion, by the way her sometimes-wild behavior can spark recklessness in him, by love and frustration and fury. And it is equally clear that these complicated emotional ties have become a hell of an iceberg, one that may soon sink the marriage.
Against the sleek, neutral backdrop of Douglas Grinn’s handsome living room set, Ballard and Sherman... give intense, multilayered performances, both turning in some of the best work of their busy South Florida careers. Ballard’s Hugh is a handsome, surprisingly sneaky, buttoned-down guy whose inner wild man still occasionally surfaces. Sherman expertly conveys Lindy’s emotional extremes and is equally convincing as she plays the rebellious seductress, an emotionally eviscerated mother, an unreliable wife whose razor-sharp words are her weapon of choice.
...Side Effects is a roller-coaster ride. And at Mosaic, it becomes must-see theater.
Mary Damiano reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Side Effects by Michael Weller, a raw, visceral look at a marriage at the mercy of the wife’s mental illness, comes to stunning life at Mosaic Theatre in Plantation.
Ballard and Sherman have chemistry to spare...  Whether they are sharing a sweet memory, battling through an argument pummeling each other with sex, they are immersive and fascinating to watch.
Ballard does a fine job illustrating Hugh’s conflict between his head and heart, especially when his stoic face dissolves into lust.  He’s perfect as a husband who is as much on the edge as his wife, only he tries to hide it while she flaunts it.
Sherman delivers a searing portrayal of a woman eager to feel and experience both the pleasure and pain in her life to the extreme, disappearing into Lindy’s skin... This is a star-making, edge-of-your-seat, not-to-be-missed performance.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
It was an extraordinary evening of theatre at Mosaic.  Opening night of Side Effects and Deborah L. Sherman got so far inside herself that I worry about her health.  Five shows a week?  Twice on Saturdays?

Playing a bi-polar woman bouncing between the brittle, smarmy, self-satisfied smile that cannot be erased and the dull-eyed acceptance of the heavily medicated, Sherman pulled up emotions rarely seen on Florida stages as the terrific Jim Ballard tried to answer the question:  do you let your wife enjoy her madness or do you dose her into Zombieland?
With Richard Jay Simon directing, Sherman and Ballard hit every level of love and hate as they try to save their marriage in five scenes spanning eighteen months.
Fashion editor Rod Stafford Hagwood was sent by The Sun-Sentinel:
There is a whole galaxy created in the play "Side Effects" at the Mosaic Theatre in Plantation.

And in it orbit Hugh (Jim Ballard) and Lindy (Deborah L. Sherman), two fiery planets spinning through the curvature of time and space, yielding only to the gravitational force of love.

Illegal emulation of Carl Sagan; overly florid prose: loss of down; 15 yards, and mandatory submission of the offending article to The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

The "review" continues:

It is a marvel of theatrics that Sherman, Ballard and director Richard Jay Simon fill up the two hours with just this world; much of what propels the plot happens unseen offstage, in between the five scenes... Sherman and Ballard are mesmerizing. Even if the play was bad (it is not) they are so good, so funny, so intense, it would still be worth the watching.
Mosaic Theatre's production of Side Effects runs through October 9, 2011.

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