The Golden Girl by the Sea-Review by Jen Bush
One might think seeing Greek Gods as exaggerated caricatures of themselves a la Gaston in Beauty and the Beast in a play with a solid premise driven by a silly and whimsical execution might not work. It worked and it was golden!
The play opens with a track of multiple overlapping voices in a black box theater. We meet the main character Xrysi on a beach in Santorini, Greece. She is a lovely young lady in an appealing flowing blue dress. In the distance she sees an enchanting mysterious woman who she declares that she is in love with. Xrysi’s manner of speaking is very theatrical and poetic. When a mysterious high priestess appears claiming that she can take Xrysi to her true love, Xrysi’s manner of speaking becomes more normal and casual demonstrating that the time period of the play is modern. Suddenly, 9 more characters appear who are entwined and move together in visual poetry which they will continue to do for the rest of the play. We learn that in order to find the one she loves, Xrysi much endure a set of trials prescribed by the Greek gods Aphrodite, Apollo, Dionysus, Zeus, Athena and Hera. With each trial she completes, she receives a key to the door of the next god’s realm.
This play had elements putting in in danger of being campy and corny. Fortunately between the solid cast and expert directing by Gwendolyn Snow and Adam Martin, it was a fun delightful romp through the realms of the Greek gods. The play expressed themes of love, acceptance and tests of will. My favorite realms were Apollo’s mansion of depressed muses and the sexual paradise of Dionysus. All it took to lift the muse’s existential crisis was a Lady Gaga song. As far as Dionysus’s realm, there is nothing like an eye opening simulated on stage orgy to take your mind off a pandemic!
This international cast wonderfully brought the work of Dorothea Gloria to life. Incidentally, Ms. Gloria did a dynamic double dipping job of also portraying the ditzy insecure priestess guiding the main character through her journey. Chrysi Sylaidi who is actually Greek, demonstrated her skillful acting chops by moving seamlessly from the comedic to the dramatic. The actors portraying the Greek gods and goddesses did a nice job of embodying the strong and arrogant personas one would expect of deities. The actors in beautiful motion gave a consistency and continuity to each scene. They were almost like living scenery in perfect sync with each other. They also did a fine job of portraying various characters in each realm. This play was reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland in terms of the main character’s quest. It’s no myth that audiences will find enjoyment in this lighthearted play with a beautiful message in the end.
The Hours-Review by Drama-Queens Lead Reviewer, JEN BUSH
With this period in time being so challenging, it was nice to escape reality into three different periods of time in a play called The Hours. The screenplay by David Hare was presented by Face to Face Films on Zoom and directed by Anthony Laura.
The Hours takes place in the early 1900’s, the 1950’s and the year 2001 and features three stories interconnected by Virginia Woolf and her novel Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf was a renowned 20th century Modernist English author. She is said to be an inspiration to feminism. She was plagued by mental illness. She died by drowning herself in River Ouse leaving behind a legacy of literature.
When the play opens, we meet Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard. The couple founded Hogarth Press so that Leonard could be at home to support Virginia. Virginia tires of being tethered to doctors due to her mental state and longs for a change of location and more freedom. In the 1950’s we see Laura Brown, a pregnant mother unhappy with her life. She is baking a cake for her husband Dan’s birthday with her son and contemplating a dark demise. In modern times we meet the grown-up version of Laura Brown’s son and his close friend Clarissa who is intent on throwing him a party for winning a prestigious poetry award. Dan is ill with A.I.D.S. This play takes on heavy themes such as mental illness and suicide and kinder themes of devotion and friendship.
It seems that even more screen time has dominated our lives. Nothing can take the place of live theater which in a desperate act of attempting to thrive has taken to platforms such as Zoom. It is very hard to capture the visceral nature and beautiful nuance that live theater affords. Well, with an incredibly strong team of actors and a skilled director, The Hours was successful in providing a touching, poignant, moving and tragic theater experience to the viewer. Each actor was squarely matched to their respective roles. The solid and steady narration of Sofia Licata filled in a lot of the details that helped engage the viewer during the performance.
Kristen Hasty, Alexandra Rooney, Henry Priest Miller, Cebi Stough, Sally Lester, Amanda Kristin Cox and Jose Duran all did a fine job of embodying their characters. Some of the cast stood out a bit, especially the ones doing double and triple duty. Samantha Yestrebsky brilliantly played the younger and older versions of her character Laura Brown in two different time periods of the show. Though they were the same character, the interpretation appropriately changed as the character aged. Candy Dato ambitiously took on all three time periods playing a servant, a neighbor and a florist. She was credible in all the roles. Gabe Calleja had a riveting show stopping moment when he was trying to reason with is wife who was on the edge. The authenticity of emotions bursting through the screen were incredible. He had wonderful chemistry with Casey Hartnett who did an exquisite job of portraying Virginia Woolf. Alex Commito wholeheartedly committed to playing the mercurial Richard. The character called for depth and angst and he delivered. Andrew Rosenbloom was simply adorable and a good actor too. The effervescent Vivien Cardone had a good handle on the wide range of emotions her character called for. Seeing The Hours were a few hours well spent.