Despite Its Shortcomings, Sailor’s Song Worth Seeing
Paul Brissett , Duluth News Tribune
November 3, 2012
At the risk of seeming to damn with faint praise, which most assuredly is not the intent, the College of St. Scholastica Theatre’s Sailor’s Song, which opened Friday, is a valiant effort that, while not without merit, ultimately is too burdened to attain its goals. “Falling short,” though, should not be taken to mean “fails.”
The dialogue of John Patrick Shanley’s script is essentially a nearly continuous rumination on the purpose of life, on death, on men and women and on dreams and aspirations. It’s heavy stuff, even for New York City’s sophisticates; its sole production there, off-Broadway, closed after a mere two weeks. Shanley, author of the acclaimed and highly decorated Doubt,among other plays and film scripts, composed the work after the deaths of his three closest family members in a short time, and it is — understandably — self-indulgent.
But it’s material to tax even fully mature, completely trained actors, and it’s to the credit of the St. Scholastica cast (and director Liz Gray-Larson) that each of them is able, at least at times, to get past an intellectual understanding of the dialogue and feel what his or her character is experiencing.
In the play, Rich (Cade Kowalczak), a young sailor, meets two sisters in a bar. Lucy (Madison Haeg) works in a bank, and Joan (Cassidy Jayne) is a medium. He tells them he is staying with his uncle, John (Matt Randolph), who is keeping a death watch over his comatose wife in their waterfront home. Leaving them, he returns to his uncle’s home, where John hectors him about his indecisiveness, and he in turn criticizes his uncle’s attitudes and past choices.
Larson and her designers have worked hard to make the turgid material accessible: the actors are well-drilled in enunciation and projection, Kevin Seime’s wharf setting is lovingly detailed and his lighting evocative of each change of mood and tempo; and Sasha Howell’s costumes, particularly for the sisters, are thoughtfully designed and expertly constructed.
The production could have used a choreographer, though. The dance numbers, with which Shanley attempts to lighten his weighty material, though admirably competent, lack the effortless grace of exhibition-grade performances. Similarly, the sisters’a cappella performance of “Santa Lucia,” while charming, was not of the quality one expects to hear from the stage.
Despite its shortcomings, though, it’s a production worth seeing. The ideas are thought-provoking, the actors’ efforts afford nuggets of credible characterization, and the production values are consistently satisfying.
By Jarad Reiser
Profane language, emotional toil, and the feeling of light in the darkness are what comes to mind when seeing the production "Sailors Song". It's profane language captures your attention early in the show. Followed by emotional toil, which keeps the audiences thoughts wondering what's next. Holding the show together is the light in the darkness that is portrayed from the battle the main actor has with split emotions between two beautiful ladies. Full of enjoyment and mild sorrow, this is a show worth seeing.
Instantly upon walking into the venue, the lighting and stage creates a certain type of atmosphere that leaves a unsure weary feeling inside of you. The stage has a flow to it that makes the crowds eyes focus on the spiral flow in the middle. But as the focus is shifted towards the middle, the details of the set stick out as well. The stage space was designed skillfully with the space allotted for the show. Details like the driftwood in the front of the stage did not go without appreciation. Along with excellent stage decor, the lights assisted well with what the director was trying to get across. The first scene set the tone for the show with lights dimming and a wispy washy sound filling the air, leaving chills down your spine. It truly felt like you were lost as sea when the show began. The actors took the reins after the stage was set for success.
Rich (Cade Kowalczak) tried, but slightly failed at portraying the curiously confused sailor. Full of very sharp comedic lines, but falling short when it came to making the audience feel his puzzlement and frustration at life. But what fell short in seriousness, he made up for with his witty personality during the humorous parts of the show. John (Matt Randolph) was a great compliment for Rich. When the two had their bouts of potty mouth filled conversations, it left the audience in tears. Randolph's ability to provoke emotions of anger, followed by his reckless personality made him a big hit in the show. The beautiful duo of Lucy (Madison Haeg) and Joan (Cassidy Jayne), helped retain the light in the dark feeling of the show. Their flirty personalities and smiles kept the audiences spirits up during the trials and tribulations of Rich.
Two aspects of this show that left more room for improvement than others was the choreography and singing. The scenes of dancing didn't feel smooth and elegant; rather bumpy and awkward. It seemed to lack symmetry while Rich, Lucy, and Joan were dancing. Whoever wasn't dancing with Rich had a hard time knowing when to come back and join. The song in the boat made you feel like you were out as sea with no better way to pass the time. Though it was sung very well, a few more songs to show the actors diversity would have been preferred.
Overall the show was very entertaining and thought provoking to watch. What would you do if you had two ladies to choose from? The interesting dialogue helped the audience focus the two men in the show, in addition to the ladies (Lucy and Joan)which provided light for such a dark scene towards the end of the production. Hop in the car, put on your seatbelt, and get on your way to this show!
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on November 1, 2012 12:37 PM.
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Much Ado About Nothing - UWS Theatre is the next entry in this blog.
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