Monday, January 23, 2012

Review of The Whiskey Rebellion's Tennyson Spade at Rhinofest 2012

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Tennyson Spade.  A Tennyson Spade is a special lantern that can take you to the Underworld.  I didn't know why they called it a Tennyson Spade, because it is a lantern, but now I kind of think it is because you are kind of digging underground when you use the Tennyson Spade.

The story is about an eleven-year-old girl by the name of Annalee (Tamara Silverleaf) whose little sister had died and she wants to find her sister again.  Her name reminds me of Annabel Lee from Edgar Allen Poe's poems.  I think they named her Annalee because lots of Edgar Allen Poe's poems are about women dying. She looked like she was eleven because she seemed older than me but they talked about having a picnic with their mom and dad.  She meets this man who is really obsessed with tea, and he has never had tea since he was alive because he died in a mine.   And his name is Simon (Cooper Forsman).  The tea is like magical tea because it kind of makes people feel better and stuff.  If you are lonely, the heat is isn't there for you, but if you feel happy like the family in the window that Simon sees, you can get tea. His goal is to see his mother again.  He kind of wants to go and he is kind of resistant to going because he thinks his mother is dead.

The playwright, Jessica Wright Buha,  and Aileen McGroddy, the director, decided to use creepy singing to tell the story.  It made it scarier because it was sung so quietly and sung in a zombie way.  They are not exactly zombies, they are more ghosts, ghost zombies.  The moved around quietly and slowly.  They spoke like the spaciest people in the world.  There were four zombie-ghosts/Lonely Ones: Courtney Kearney, Ellenor Riley-Condit, Monica Thomas, and Lauren C. Virnoche.  They show us what people feel like when they are all alone.

They had sand that they would use and like put it all over the ground.  And then the Lonely Ones and Simon would all try to remember things about where they used to live.  The sand was helping them remember things they could not remember.  The teapot was where the sand came from to help remember the mine.  Maybe it is a magical teapot to help remember things.  They didn't use flower petals or rice because they were underground and there was nothing to eat and nothing grew because it was so cold.  It was like always winter.

It made you think of bad things about death because, if one of your relatives or friends dies, they can never come back.  That makes you feel sad and lonely.  If I had a Tennyson Spade, I would go and find people I knew that had died and see what has happened.  I would want to find them, but I would be scared to go and find them because I would not want them to not recognize me.  Annalee chooses to go and find her sister because she misses her too much to even care if she doesn't recognize her.

The show was kind of confusing for me, because I am only seven.  But I think people that have dead relatives will understand this better. It was good because it had a happy ending.  The beginning was kind of sad, but at the end you felt happy because the warmth had come back.  I think this show should be for ages nine and up.  I can see it because I am a very brave seven-year-old. People that like ghosts, tea, and adventures would like this show.

Photos: Jack Mayer

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of Opus at Redtwist Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Opus. Opus sounds like a made up word, but it means a piece of music. I think they called it Opus because they were always working on music. Opus is about a four-string quartet who is getting ready to play for the president. I know it isn't Obama, because Obama is a very great president and the president in the play was not the best president. Somebody isn't there and this nice girl is in place of this man named Dorian (Paul Dunckel). Dorian was not a very responsible person because he has problems, and he didn't really like the music that they wanted to do, so that was really tough for them. They are used to having Dorian there and not Grace (Emily Tate) there. She has to learn the song as fast as she can, but it is not easy to learn a song lickety-split.

I've never been to Redtwist. I think it is a small theater, but a very cozy theater. It makes you feel like you are in a little mouse nook. I felt like I was actually part of the show because we were so close to the stage--and on the stage almost. It makes everybody feel like they are in the show, like they are a certain character watching what is happening.

They didn't really play music. They just faked it because none of the people in show could play the violin as good as the characters in the show. The characters are very talented players. I think it was a good idea to fake, so the actors wouldn't have to learn all the songs and they could spend more time with their child, wife, mother, sister, brother, or husband or something like that. They did do a pretty good job of the faking. Everybody knew they weren't actually doing it, but everybody felt like they were actually playing.

One of my favorite scenes was when the men were talking about their teacher and how good he was because they said a sentence It was really funny because people actually don't say The teacher said stuff like, "It is like two bows playing one instrument" in an accent that was kind of Russian but kind of French. And people would just keep saying, "I think the teacher was Russian, I think the teacher was Czech, I think the teacher was Hungarian" because nobody could actually tell what country he was from or city or whatever.

There was a funny scene where Grace came to the practice at Alan's (John Ferrick) house. And she was inside and Alan had not even woken up yet. So he came out in his bathrobe and she was asking why they were all so late. And then she looked at the clock and she said, "Oh my gosh, I'm two hours early!" because she had set her clock wrong for the wrong time. She asked for so many different kinds of tea, like Lemon Zing and Red Zinger, but he didn't have any of them. All he had was something that looks like tea but might have been marijuana or just very very very very bad tea. If she had been drinking marijuana, it would been illegal and she could have been arrested. This teaches you to not drink any sort of drugs because they taste disgusting.

The scene where Elliot (Michael Sherwin) and Dorian were talking about how they met was really awesome and cool because on each side there was one of them and they kept going back and forth telling the same story. Their teacher told them to play a song together and it sounded so beautiful that they became very good friends. They are kind of like brothers, but they are not because they don't have the exact same mother or the exact same father or both. They are like brothers because they know each other for such a long time and they are always together and they are roommates. And being a roommate can make you feel like you are a brother or a sister to someone. But they weren't brother and sister. They were kind of in love, but not exactly because they broke up. I think it was a little sad that they broke up because it actually seemed like they loved each other a lot when they were talking about how they met.

My favorite of all favorite scenes was the scene where all the audience sit and tremble in their seats because they broke a violin. WAH Wah wah. WAH Wah wah stands for not very good at all. When they broke the violin, my mom held my hand as tight as she could. And I felt a little scared myself, even though I am a reviewer, because I have a violin in the house, and I play it, and I do not want to break my very own violin. The violin in the show was so beautiful and shiny and super special because its name was Lazara, the name of the person that made it and of the quartet. I think Carl (Brian Parry) broke the violin because he was dying and he didn't think they could do shows without him. I think he smashed it for three reasons--one I already told you about. Another is because Elliot and Dorian should not have been fighting over a violin that was rightfully Dorian's because he got it himself from one of his mother's friends. They were fighting over the violin because it was so pretty and the sound sounded very nice. The other reason is because they might have given Carl a medicine that would make him go cuckoo because it might make him survive the disease.

I think this show should be for ages 6 and up. People who like string instruments, Beethoven, and drama would like this show. It gives you what practicing actually looks like. People don't usually get to see rehearsals because players (Shakespeare word!) are usually just doing the rehearsals by themselves. It is important because you can understand a show better than you normally can if you go to see the rehearsal and the show as well. It made me understand the show and the music better because they showed you what a rehearsal for Opus the play and Opus 131 the Beethoven looked like by showing what actual rehearsal looks like.

Photos: Christopher Burpee