Monday, April 16, 2012

Review of Ten Chimneys at Northlight Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Ten Chimneys because there were ten chimneys all over this estate. It was about this theater company that was rehearsing The Seagull in a summer home. And the people in the theater company were Lynn Fontanne (Lia D. Mortensen), Alfred Lunt (V Craig Heidenreich), Uta Hagen (Sara J. Griffin), and Sydney Greenstreet (Steve Pringle). They are all real people; none of them are made up. They find out about some romance between two people who are not married, which are Alfred and his friend from college. Some brothers, Alfred and Carl (Lance Baker), didn't get along very well because one of them was a pool shark, and that wasn't really a good thing, and he cheats his brother all the time. You pretend to be bad at pool when you are actually very good at pool, and then on the last round you put up a lot of money for it, and then he'll play so good, and then he'll get the biggest amount of money. Lynn and Alfred are fighting about how he doesn't love her anymore, but he kind of still does, and he kind of doesn't. They got together when they were in plays because they loved each other and they both liked acting. Uta Hagen is somebody who has just joined the theater company. I think she likes Alfred which is not good because he is already married to Lynn. Hattie (Linda Kimbrough) and everybody else in the theater company, treat Louise (Janet Ulrich Brooks) like a servant when she isn't; she's part of the family.

I liked how when you got the idea of what was happening, you were like "Wow. I didn't realize that before." Like, oh, Hattie was lying about her playing Nina from The Seagull. I also liked when it was a surprise that Lynn was so sarcastic and tore off her robe and was completely naked. It was strange because why would anyone take off their robe in complete public and be completely naked? They were talking about something she really didn't like the subject of, so she was showing her anger and being sarcastic.

So, it was a little confusing when they were talking about pool sharks because I didn't know very much about pool sharks because they are things that kids don't really have to know. I know what a pool shark is now because I put it together at the end of the show. I thought it was confusing when they would quickly change the subject. So when Lynn and Alfred had just finished a scene and they came in arguing, or at least it so seemed they were arguing. But they were actually rehearsing part of The Seagull, which I did not know til they stopped and started talking about how great the scene was and how good a job they did. I have seen lots of Chekhov plays, like Uncle Vanya and two Cherry Orchards, but I have never seen The Seagull. It would have been clearer to me if I had seen The Seagull.

The parts that I liked in the show were the funny parts. I liked when they were talking about how they had completely forgotten about The Seagull and that trip, and Sydney Greenstreet calls the play the one where the bird is saying "I'm the title! I'm the title!" Saying "I'm the title! I'm the title!" is a little bizarre because if you are saying "I'm the title!" you sound like you are crazy. I liked the scene where Louise threw the plates on the floor because she said "That was an accident," when she totally did it on purpose. Hattie was funny. She was always basically faking dramatic things that happened to her and cool things that she wanted to believe but were not actually true. I didn't want to be good friends with Hattie because she doesn't seem like a person that would really like a person like me, but I did think she was an interesting character.

In the scene where Alfred gave Carl the money to pay back the sharpies, I liked how Carl was like "I paid off the sharpies yesterday, but thanks for the extra." But he should have just been like, "I'll give you back this money because I already paid back the sharpies," but what he actually said was exactly the opposite of that. He was selfish and sophisticated and stealthy. I liked his character but not in way that you think he's good. You like him because he is funny, but you don't like him because he is a little bit evil.

There was something that I was a little bothered by which was that I thought they should have shown more things than they did. I mean, like, they should have shown Alfred going to the town and going to see his friend. They could have just done a quick set change or gone to a part of the stage that wasn't the house and shown you that. I also think they should have shown Uta Hagen not going onstage and being bit and kicked because it was an exciting and suspenseful moment. They should have showed it because they wanted it to be an exciting and suspenseful play. If you show things, then the play will have more meaning to that scene. The effect goes on you in a way that feels like it is actually real. If you just tell, then it doesn't have the exact same volume. It is quieter in a way that is concerning. You are not looking into this other world; you are just watching somebody telling you what might have happened.

People who would like this show are people who like famous actors, history, summer homes, and plate breaking. I think they chose some good characters that were interesting to put in a play. And this will make you, if you have never seen The Seagull, want to see The Seagull or see it again if you have seen it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

1 comment:

jisliss said...

O Ada Grey - how I've loved following your reviews through the years - you have been writing a while now! And it is truly a wonderful thing to hear your voice and see the play(s) through your eyes. I was struck by the line: "You are not looking into this other world; you are just watching somebody telling you what might have happened" -- and then realized your telling of what 'did happen' (at Ten Chimneys) made it feel like I was looking into this other world. That was lovely.

I did wonder some at the idea of being 'sophisticated' as also 'being someone who cheats others'. O poo. I've always rather liked sophistication, but don't like that it is associated with sneaky and untruthful behavior. You had a lovely insight there though.

Kudos, too, to your parents -- with whom you play at this. What a delightful enterprise for you all!