Monday, January 21, 2013

Review of Promethean Theatre Ensemble's Caucasian Chalk Circle

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. It was about a servant named Grusha (Sara Gorsky) who was trapped in a fire and she found Michael, the baby of her mistress (Jennifer Roehm) and she decided to take it as her own. She went to many places with him to keep him safe. She decides to become his mother but the original mother gets angry at her for taking the baby and takes her to court. It is about how a foster mother can be so loving to a child that she treats it like it was her own. It is also about love, hate, concern, anger--it is about lots of different emotions and how people feel when these emotions happen to them and what they do. I thought this show was very touching, funny, and sad. I actually cried. I laughed a lot as well. And I was also terrified about what was going to happen to Michael, Grusha, and all the main characters that you like.

This paragraph is going to be about terrible mothers because Michael's first mother was exactly the opposite of my mom. When the fire was happening, all she cared about was the dresses, and she left the baby behind. It is a horrible thing just to think about your dresses because they are inanimate objects and a baby is a living thing with blood going through it--the opposite of inanimate.

The Prince (Nicole Hand) who started the war pretended that he was the Governor (Tommy Venuti) and the Governor's wife's friend when he wasn't. The Prince is a plain old bad guy because he wants to get Michael who is an adorable, innocent, and sweet baby. Later, the Prince asks the army to make his Nephew (Kate Suffern) a judge, but he isn't a very good judge.

At first Grusha just thought I'll take this baby and find another mother for him. But there's a war going on and there are people after them. And those people are really bad and they want Michael, the baby. She was trying to help Michael survive, so once she saved Michael from one of the bad guys (Alex Mauney), she decided to become his mother. The bad guy wasn't just any old bad guy. He was the weirdest bad guy I have ever seen performed on any stage and one of the funniest too. He was funny because he was so ridiculous and he would do these weird things like look like he was flirting with everyone--even Mr. Blockhead (Aaron Lawson) who was someone he hated very much.

Then when Grusha still has Michael she decides to get married so that people won't talk about her having a child when she was not married because Simon (Josh Nordmark) the guy she is engaged to won't get out of the war any time soon. Her brother (Brendan Hutt), who has the crankiest wife in the world (Anne Korajczyk), lets Grusha stay over and makes the wedding plans. He says, "We have someone! And he's dying! Isn't that great!" And Grusha kind of has a "That's great, but that is also kind of creepy!" look on her face. When she gets married, the guy that she's married to (Tommy Venuti) comes out in his undies and everybody is shocked because he is coming out in his undies and he should at least have some pants on. They are also surprised that he got up because everybody thought he was dying and he couldn't get up. But he happened to not be dying; he was just faking so he didn't have to go to war. So now she was stuck with somebody and the war had just ended.

The war gets out and Simon gets angry at her because he wants to marry her but it seems like she loves somebody else. But she doesn't! She actually doesn't love that guy at all! She still loves Simon but she can't say that Michael isn't hers because there are people that would take Michael away. I thought it was very sad but it was very happy that she loved her child very much but it was also sad because she wanted to go be with Simon but she couldn't without hurting Michael.

After intermission, I thought it was a little bit confusing that they just changed the main character for most of the rest of the play and then they went back to the first main character. The main character in the second act was the judge Azdak (Teddy Lance). He starts out as an outlaw but then he helps the Duke (Addison Heimann) by accident even though he doesn't like the Duke. I think that the character of the judge is very interesting but also a little bit strange because he at first is an outlaw who a judge would usually say, "Take that guy to jail!" So when he is a judge it is basically an outlaw telling outlaws that they have to go to jail. The soldiers told him that he was going to be a judge by knowing that he danced in the streets funnily. And he was also, when he did this, drunk.

One of my favorite scenes I thought was super funny. So, this man walked in with a lady who had a veil over her face (Elissa Newcorn) whose name was Ludovica and she was doing this weird show-off thing with her hips and her shoulders. It was very funny because she was in court but she was still showing off her shoulders and her hips. And then when she went to go and pick up the knife she basically just slammed her butt in the air because she wanted to show off her butt for some reason. Because she is doing that in court when she is supposed to be sad about the crime, the judge just says, "let's go investigate the scene of the crime" when he actually is going there to flirt with Ludovica.

It is Grusha's story at first, then it is Azdak's, and then it is both of them at the same time because he is judging her in court. The servant that you meet in the beginning who is a cook (Natalie June) comes to be a witness with Simon for Grusha to keep her child. I thought that the idea that the judge came up with to find out who was the actual mother was a very bad idea. They put Michael in the center of a circle and pulled on either end of him. It is a bad idea because maybe the best mother was the weakest. They don't find the actual mother, but they do find the one who loves him the most. I won't tell you who that is, even though you might have already guessed it. But the judge's idea isn't actually a bad one in the end because he knows who loves the child most.

I thought the music (composed by Matt Kahler, assisted by Cary Davenport) was really touching and also sometimes it could be cheerful as well. Sometimes it sounded kind of like something you could play for a sad occasion. The music was live and it was many many instruments. Almost everyone in the show had an instrument. And everyone in the show had an instrument if you could their lungs and their voices--except for one person, Michael. He didn't have an instrument for two reasons: 1) he is a puppet and 2) he is under 4 years old. The entire narration (done by Davenport) was singing, and I thought that was very interesting. I think they did that because the singing made you be more absorbed in the story.

People who would like this show are people who like children, romance, and comedy. People should see this show because it is beautiful, the music is very cool, and all the actors are very talented. This play made me feel happy and sad very close to each other.

Photos: Tom McGrath

No comments: