Sunday, November 2, 2008

Review - Something Weird . . . In the Red Room (Rachel Klein Productions)

Review by Byrne Harrison
Photos by Lisa Soverino

Something Weird . . . In The Red Room certainly lives up to its name. It is in the Red Room and it is most definitely weird. This evening featuring two short plays directed and choreographed by Rachel Klein has a fun and freaky vibe, and though somewhat confusing, is a good time.

The first play of the evening, Sir Sheever by Benjamin Spiro, is a quirky play about a hapless burglar, Ralph (Bret Haines), who wanders into a creepy dollhouse of a mansion run by Miss Elise (Kari Warchock), a Baby Jane type, and populated with a group of life-sized dolls. Incorporated into her fantasy role-playing, Ralph, now dubbed Sir Sheever, discovers that the dolls are more than they appear, and this knowledge may spell the end of Ralph and Miss Elise.

Klein's direction is strong, though her forte appears to be more geared toward the choreography (which is outstanding) and the creation of fascinating stage pictures, and less toward the pacing and dialogue. While the actors playing humans are good, the ones playing dolls are outstanding. Special praise goes to Megan O'Connor, as a haughty talking doll, complete with pull-string, named Miss Prissypants, and Ted Caine, as the hypersexual Fredrick doll.

Aenigma by Sean Gill, the second play of the evening is . . . well, enigmatic. This strange tale about Diana (Jillaine Gill) and Charlotte (Elizabeth Stewart), two sisters who are trying to find backers for their children's show, quickly changes into a psychosexual thriller about blackmail, murder, magic, and the universe that exists just beyond our realm of consciousness.

While Klein once again demonstrates her skill with choreography and movement, Aenigma better highlights her skills as a director. Using flashbacks, slow motion, and other decidedly non-realistic techniques, Klein makes up for the main weakness of the show, the necessity of explaining the backstory of Diana and Charlotte, by making the show fascinating to watch.

Outstanding performances are given by both Gill and Stewart, as well as Rob Richardson, as the emotionally blank blackmailer, Mr. Green. Bret Jaspers, who portrays Tad, a strange antagonist to Gill's Diana, does a good job, though Tad is at his off-kilter best when Jaspers and Gill are interacting.

For an Off-Off Broadway show with, I imagine, a small budget, the technical aspects of the show are excellent. Lighting designer Lisa Soverino does an outstanding job using light, shadow, and color to highlight the more surreal moments of both plays. Makeup designer Anita Rundles and costume designers Emily Dorwart and Rachel Klein create marvelous ensembles, especially for the dolls in Sir Sheever.

Something Weird . . . In The Red Room is fascinating evening of theatre. You might come out of it scratching your head, but even so, you will come out of it entertained.

Written by Benjamin Spiro (Sir Sheever) and Sean Gill (Aenigma)
Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Klein
Lighting Designer: Lisa Soverino
Makeup Designer: Anita Rundles
Costume Designer: Emily Dorwart and Rachel Klein
Costume Consultant: Emily Taradash
Sound Designer: Rachel Klein and Sean Gill
Sound Engineer: Benjamin Spiro and Sean Gill
Original Music Composer: Sean Gill and John Gill
Photographer: Lisa Soverino
Graphic Designer: Anthony Patryn
Press Representative: Emily Owens PR
Stage Managers: Lizz Giorgos and Marina Steinberg
Producer: Rachel Klein
Associate Producers: Benjamin Spiro and Sean Gill

Featuring (Sir Sheever): Candy Bloise (Euripides), Ted Caine (Fredrick), Bret Haines (Ralph), Abigail Hawk (Eunice), Megan O'Connor (Miss Prissypants), Michael Porsche (Robert), Kari Warchock (Miss Elise)

Featuring (Aenigma): Jillaine Gill (Diana), Bret Jaspers (Tad), Dasha Kittredge (Body Rock Crew), Christopher Loar (Body Rock Crew), Rob Richardson (Mr. Green), Claire A. Sansaricq (Body Rock Crew), Elizabeth Stewart (Charlotte)

The Red Room
85 E. 4th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Ave.

Closed 10/31