I don't very often read movie or theatre reviews. I find that I seldom agree with the reviewers, I think they are often politically-motivated, and, even those reviewers who are competent enough not to write as though composing a book report still manage to give away a few "spoilers" in their effort to fill column-inches.
However, when I saw that John Moore (one of the better reviewers in town, in my opinion) was actually bothering to review And Toto Too Theatre Company's mid-week show at the Denver Vic, The Glider, I couldn't not read it. With something like a hundred theatre companies producing in Colorado each season, it's fairly easy for smaller companies like And Toto Too to go unnoticed -- especially by the major papers.
Well, the review was a little less than favorable. Two stars. Mostly he went after Katherine Snodgrass's script and left the actors (two of whom are pretty good friends of mine) alone.
Still, two stars for the overall production, even if that's primarily for flaws in the script, doesn't bode well for an enjoyable evening of theatre -- particularly when it's a show that friends are in.
Those are the performances where I start making note of the available exits in order to avoid that awkward, "Sooo . . . what did you think?" from the friend in the show.
Well, I went to the show last night with a degree of reticence, but comfortable in the fact that I knew that, even if the script left something to be tired, my friends were far more than competent enough actors to pull off a worthy show.
I am happy to say that I think, in this case, John was between two and three stars off the mark. "The Glider" is a deftly-written, tightly-woven script. Comparison's to Beth Henley's over-rated and meandering script Crimes of the Heart are a bit unfair. (Chekov and Shakespeare wrote plays about three sisters, too, you know.)
In the interest of "equal time," (even though his readership is like 100,000 times that of mine) here's John's review. (Be warned. Even John is not immune from throwing in a spoiler or two.)
Now, while John didn't criticize the performances or the direction, he didn't spend many inches on praising them, either.
Let me take a moment to do that now. Rita Broderick as Fran finds every level in a character whose dark secret is hinted at often, but never fully revealed. Rebecca Remaly manages a fascinatingly steady simmer as the middle sister whose future seems completely out of her hands. Perhaps the most compelling performance (and in this trio, that's saying something) comes from the actress who seems to be given the least to work with in the script. Amanda Von Nostrand as Chrissy moves (glides?) adroitly between vulnerable younger sibling and statuesque family leader.
Now, crisp as Snodgrass's script is, one could see how the potential for melodrama could be exploited. Director Susan Lyles keeps tears and screaming outbursts just as they ought to be -- to a minimum. These characters are not on a reality program. There's no posturing for the "camera." They're just three people trying to simply maintain, in the middle of a very bad situation. The story is all the more moving then for the grounded performances.
There's a saying in theatre that the best tech is the tech that goes unnoticed, and I agree with that somewhat, but it's worth noting that designers Darren Smith and Karalyn "Star" Pytel (with the help of Scenic Artist James Holley) so effectively created a boathouse overlooking a moonlit lake, that I could not help myself but to periodically look over my shoulder expecting to see a bright silver moon and fish jumping on the water.
I don't have a rating system of stars or thumbs-up or anything because I don't really consider myself a reviewer, but let's just say, "I got five on it." (No, wait, I think that means something else.)
Anyway, good show. Great show. Go see it.
The Glider runs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through July 10th at the Denver Victorian Playhouse.
Here's a bit of fun: this is a video of the set change between The Vic's set for Catch Me If You Can into the set for The Glider.