Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mamaí Theatre Company’s Inaugural Production “Medea” is Haunting and Fearless

Mamaí Theatre Company’s Inaugural Production “Medea” is Haunting and Fearless

By Marjorie Preston

“Brava!”

www.marjoriepreston.com/brava

 

New Cleveland Heights-based theater company Mamaí has brought as its inaugural production the U.S. Premiere of Brendan Kennelly’s translation of “Medea” by Euripides. This production of “Medea” is dark, fearless and haunting.

 

Medea (Tracee Patterson) is betrayed by her husband Jason (Jason Kaufman), when he beds another woman, princess Glauce, the daughter of King Creon (Robert Hawkes). Patterson is powerful as the grieving, forsaken wife facing exile from King Creon’s land, making her a lonely refugee. This prospect, coupled with her shock at her husband’s broken oath, sends her reeling into hatred.

 

Medea’s vengefulness doesn’t stop at anger toward her husband or his new bride-to-be. The mother of two makes plans to kill the princess with poison. Her poison also kills the king. Knowing the authorities will come for her, and fearing the way her daughters will be treated when the scandal breaks, and perhaps extending her revenge to the people her husband loves most of all, she murders her own children (Grace Hoy and Julia Ashkettle) in cold blood. “Nobody on this earth will call me weak,” Medea insists.

 

Patterson is riveting and her Medea is multifaceted, by turns stunned, cold, proud, consumed by hatred and deeply hurt. She communicates sly looks to the audience and embodies cunning during the scene where she is selecting a weapon. Kaufman deftly shifts from an arrogant liar to a broken, destroyed man.

 

The supporting cast carry their parts deftly. A lovely comic relief comes from Sarah Doody as a naïve, mouth breathing barista obsessed with moderation like some sort of new age cult.

 

Director Bernadette Clemens has assembled a fiercely talented cast that, coupled with the fresh script, breathe new and stinging life into this tragedy. Set Designer Trad Burns has covered the stage with AstroTurf, practical for catching fluids, and bedecked the set with simple pieces like the picket fence and plant boxes of a homestead or cafe tables and chairs of a Starbucks. Set changes are quick and punctuated with dances from cast members.

 

Whether Medea has gone mad is for the audience to decide. Her murders are cold and vicious, and yet it’s hard not to feel she achieved payback in a way her husband never anticipated. Euripides writes about a murderer and asks us to see her as a victim. Kennelly’s update of “Medea” is bold and substantive, and the production is populated with talented actors.

 

“Medea” runs through June 30, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at 2843 Washington Boulevard, Cleveland Heights in residence on Ensemble Theatre’s main stage. For tickets, call (216) 570-3403 or visit www.mamaitheatreco.org. The play contains adult language and themes.

Mercury Summer Stock’s “Shrek” A Lively Journey Full of Surprises

Mercury Summer Stock’s “Shrek” A Lively Journey Full of Surprises
By MARJORIE PRESTON
Brava!

www.marjoriepreston.com/brava

Mercury Summer Stock’s current musical production, “Shrek,” with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the DreamWorks film and book by William Steig, tells the tale of an ogre who embarks on a quest that will change the lives of many. A talented group, principals and supporting cast all, make “Shrek” a lively journey full of surprises.

 

The green-skinned ogre Shrek (Pat Ciamacco) lives alone in a swamp believing that “real life is grossly overrated” until Lord Farquaad of Duloc (Brian Marshall) banishes so many of his citizens that they begin to show up in Shrek’s neighborhood. On his journey to rescue a princess (in order to get Lord Farquaad off his back), he actually begins to make friends, including a Donkey on the run (Justin Woody) and the Princess Fiona (Sara Masterson), thrilled to be rescued from a tower after thirty years, even if it is by an ogre.

 

Ciamacco’s Scottish accent is wonderful, he is confident, pleasant and humorous to watch. Ciamacco gets his moment to show his singing skills in “Who I’d Be,” the first act closer. Marshall brings a sly, delicious quality to his short-statured Farquaad, with innovative choreography in his introductory number in the first act in a strong section between Woody’s toe-tapping “Don’t Let Me Go” and Masterson’s skillful mood-changing in “I Know It’s Today.”

 

Every number involving Woody is peppy and infused with soul, including “Travel Song.” His comic abilities are sharp. Masterson shows great versatility in the plum role of Fiona, including comic timing, great pipes and tap skills in her cheerful ode to daybreak, “Morning Person.” The major characters all come from storybook-bad childhoods, but the audience can sympathize and laugh at their foibles. In fact, the schadenfreude is one of the guilty pleasures of enjoying this show.

 

Director and Choreographer Pierre-Jacques Brault has assembled a wonderful cast and slipped in a few Cleveland references for fun. His hard work on the choreography shines most in Farquaad’s introductory piece and “Morning Person.” Set Design by Falcon Productions uses multifunctional rolling, rotating and hinged wooden set pieces painted tastefully to depict the grass and rocks of a swamp or high castle walls.

 

“Shrek” plays at Mercury Summer Stock, Regina Auditorium at Notre Dame College, 1857 South Green Road in South Euclid. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. through June 29. For tickets visit www.mercurysummerstock.com or call (216) 771-5862. Parental guidance is suggested due to some crude humor and general naughtiness.