The Whale Enters the Overworked Heart of Darkness

Categories: Theater

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Photo by Walking Shadow Theatre Company
Zach Curtis.
Walking Shadow Theatre Company isn't the kind of group to give you a traditional holiday show, but The Whale hits a lot of the familiar buttons, just in a decidedly darker, harder, and far more honest way.

At the play's center is Charlie, an English teacher who has fallen on extremely tough times. How tough? He's confined to his grotty small-town apartment after eating his way up to 500 pounds plus. He makes his living tutoring online English classes, and knows that his body can't take the strain much longer.

See also:
Walking Shadow Moves to Mixed Blood to Present
The Whale

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Fur Trade Comedy Beaverdance Pits Dancing Beavers Against Capitalism

Categories: Theater

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Farrington Starnes
The Beavers and Andrea Fairbanks as Bemidji

Beaver orgy.

That's the image that sticks after seeing Beaverdance: a half-dozen actors in beaver costumes doing the virtual nasty with a burly voyageur. Throw in a pair of gay fur-trading bosses — and Karl Marx disguised as Santa Claus — and you have Bedlam Theatre's version of a Christmas dinner theater musical.

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The Cocktail Hour: Give Me a Drink, Please

Categories: Theater

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Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp
Peter Thomson (Bradley) and Rod Brogan (John) in The Cocktail Hour.
Early on in A.R. Gurney's meta-theatrical play The Cocktail Hour, playwright John (Ron Brogan) tells his father Bradley (Peter Thomson) that his next piece is named for the family's early-evening tradition of pre-dinner drinks. His father wonders if that title has already been taken by T.S. Eliot.

As John notes, that would be The Cocktail Party. That's a play that would be much more preferable to watch than Gurney's exhausted and trite examination of a WASP family and its perceived troubles.

See also:
A Christmas Carol: Still a Comfy Ride

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Beaverdance, Others Provide Post-Thanksgiving Theatrical Cheer

Categories: Theater

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Photo by Farrington Starnes
Santa Marx (Corrie Zoll) and the Beavers in Beaverdance.
The turkey, or vegetarian substitute, has been eaten. Everyone is out of grape salad jokes. The Black Friday sales have been either conquered or destroyed.

There's still plenty of a long weekend ahead, and the local theaters offer some alternatives to traditional holiday cheer that can get your mind off your waistline -- or the fact that the Xbox One bundle your had your heart set on was sold out. (Or maybe I'm projecting.)

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Bedlam Lowertown goes KABOOM

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Shakespeare Mash-Up Love's Labour's Lost Is Worth Your Time

Categories: Theater

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When the Moving Company chose to reshape Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, it imported dialogue from the Bard's three dozen plays, creating a touching and tragic meta-ride.

Those positive results are to be expected. The company's core comes from Theatre de la Jeune Lune, an innovative group that imploded under the weight of financial and creative stress in 2008.

Love's Labour's Lost is a most Jeune Lune-like show, right down to the rough-walled Warehouse District space. It has plenty of the risk-taking of the old company, with a familiar mix of the stunning and the annoying.

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Walking Shadow Moves to Mixed Blood to Present The Whale

Categories: Theater

TheWhale.jpg
Photo by Walking Shadow Theatre Company
Zach Curtis.
There's a 600-pound challenge at the heart of Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale. And it's one the creators at Walking Shadow Theatre Company are more than willing to take on.

The play's title refers to main character Charlie, an English teacher who has retreated to the isolation of his home and is bent on eating himself to death. As the play starts, he is severely overweight and barely mobile.

See also:
Gabriel Plays it Cool in Face of Melodrama


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A Christmas Carol: Still a Comfy Ride

Categories: Theater

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Photo by Dan Norman
J.C. Cutler and Tracey Maloney.
When a theatrical tradition reaches 40 years, critics tend to take cover. After all, how many times can we review the story of Scrooge learning the true meaning of Christmas on the snowy streets of early Victorian-age London?

Still, as I had passed on the production in 2013, I decided to take in this year's edition. It's what I expected: a well performed and designed holiday creation that retains its ability to entertain even after decades on the stage.

See also:
Nat Fuller Ready for Latest Turn in "A Christmas Carol"

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The Moving Company Recreates Love's Labour's Lost

Categories: Theater

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Photo by Richard Tyler Rowley.
Nathan Keepers, Heidi Bakke, and Steven Epp.
The Moving Company brings Shakespeare's early play Love's Labour's Lost to the Lab Theater starting this week. While it retains the title, you won't find much of the original play inside.

Instead, the fast-paced production includes lines from all 37 of Shakespeare's plays, from the romance of As You Like It to the tragedy of King Lear to the whatever-the-hell-it-is of Titus Andronicus.

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Moving Company Ready to Unload the Lab in
For Sale

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CTC's Grinch Still Brings Holiday Cheer

Categories: Theater

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Photo by Dan Norman
Brandon Brooks and Reed Sigmund.
The holiday season has plenty of traditions, especially at local theaters. While the Children's Theatre Company doesn't present Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year, it is usually a welcome addition to the schedule.

This year is no exception, with a fast-paced adventure that unfolds like a Technicolor-fueled dream, buoyed by a well-honed script and songs, and deepened by a cascade of delightful performances.

See also:
Sonja Parks Makes a Neighborhood Come Alive in
Seedfolks

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Relics Misses Opportunities in Far-Future Look at Our Modern World

Categories: Theater

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Everyone loves a good apocalypse story — the Rapture, a zombifying plague, a planet of highly intelligent and pissed-off apes.

Relics, a new experimental work presented at the Guthrie's Dowling Studio, takes us to a post-apocalyptic society 300 years in the future, on the anniversary of "The Great Wipe," which, we are told, annihilated our society and destroyed all records of its existence. Here, a museum exhibit is about to open, packed with artifacts from long-lost 2014.

This is a progressive production: The audience travels through the exhibit, visiting several chambers along the way to the finale, where the sacred rites of this lost society are on display. Think of it as a haunted house, but instead of scares there is a mystery: What has happened to our 2014 way of life, and what kind of world do our descendants inhabit?

See also: Relics Offers Futuristic Look at the PresentMore »
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