Sunday, March 31, 2019

Review of Lifeline Theatre's The Man Who Was Thursday

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Man Who Was Thursday. It was adapted by Bilal Dardai based on the novel by G.K. Chesterton. It was directed by Jess Hutchinson. It was about a young poet named Gabriel Syme (Eduardo Xavier Curley-Carrillo) who is recruited to be a police detective. He meets an anarchist poet, Lucien Gregory (Cory Hardin), who takes him to a secret anarchist meeting. The anarchists are led by the mysterious Sunday (Allison Cain) who is seen as all powerful and a person to be feared. Gabriel unexpectedly becomes Thursday, joining: the secretary who keeps everyone in line, Monday (Marsha Harman); Gogol, the outspoken Polish man, who is Tuesday (Christopher M, Walsh); The Marquis de St. Eustache, Wednesday (Corbette Pasko), an egotistical French person; the knowledgeable Professor de Worms, who is Friday (Linsey Falls); and the terrifying and stoic Dr. Bull, who is Saturday (Jen Ellison). But all is not as it appears when it comes to these anarchists' identities. It is about fear, appearances vs. reality, and camaraderie. I think this show has a great twist and was well-performed.

The characters Wednesday, Monday, Saturday, Sunday, and Comrade Buttons (Sonia Goldberg), were all characters that were written as men in the book but played by women in the show. Monday's character was actually female in the play as, I believe, was Comrade Buttons. There is another character who is disguised as a man but is actually a woman, but I don't want to give that away. Many of the women actors seem to be playing male characters, and I noticed that those roles held higher positions of power in the organization. It was hard to tell if the adaptor was being true to the sexism of the time or couldn't imagine the more powerful characters as women, even if they were played by women. These casting choices could be metatheatrical, reminding the audience that it is a play and it is all about illusion. Plays depend on people pretending to be other people. It also pertains to the plot of this play, where no one is telling the truth about their identities.

This play was very humorous due to many of the recurring jokes. One of my favorite elements of visual humor was the obviously false beards. Whenever a character's true identity would get discovered, they would dramatically rip off their beard and declare who they truly were. Tuesday had an especially false beard, and stereotypical Polish accent, so when he was discovered it was a very jarring switch to his normal accent which I thought was hilarious. Also I thought that Lucien's monologue after he found out that he was not going to become the new Thursday, but instead Symes, who he just found out was a police officer, is going to be Thursday was absolutely hilarious. His facial expressions and melodramatic emotions alarmed the people around him. The reactions of his fellow anarchists were also effective and humorous. I also thought that Dr. Bull was funny in an unnerving way and the first time you hear his voice is hilarious. The way he could sense where people were made him like a stereotypical Bond villain. The Marquis was hilarious because of his conceited physical ad libbing, like when he would be checking his teeth in a knife.

People who would like this show are people who like recasting and rethinking older works, hilarious anarchists, and obviously false beards. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the humor and wit of the play and performances.

Photos: Suzanne Plunkett

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