Theater Notes: Margulies play scores with Theatre Conspiracy audience
Have you seen any of the plays by the Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright, Donald Margulies? His play, “Dinner with Friends,” about two very contemporary young couples facing marriages that have turned sour, won him the Pulitzer in 2000. It’s a gripping piece of work, but my favorite Marguilies’ play is “Collected Stories.” It’s about a veteran professor of English and her young graduate student who steals the dark and highly personal facts of the professor’s life for her own first novel. The audience is torn facing who’s right and who’s wrong. Some of you may remember the fine staged reading Marsha Wagner and Susen Berg did of “Collected Stories”… there’s no doubt that Margulies can write.
So it was with great anticipation that I went off-Island to see the Margulies play Theatre Conspiracy has on the boards at the Alliance for the Arts for one more weekend. “Shipwrecked!” is its title, and they bill it as “An Entertainment.” And that it is. He had done it at The Long Wharf in New Haven, Conn. in 2008 and it played off Broadway in 2009, getting a fair review from The New York Times.
It’s a rollicking, old-fashioned swashbuckler, full of twists and turns and quite brilliantly played by three familiar pros from the Fort Myers area. J. Mitchell Haley plays the shipwrecked hero, Louie de Rougemont, and it is truly a tour-de-force performance that he pulls off. But he is ably supported by the incredible Patricia Idlette who plays at least a half- dozen different roles during the evening and nails them all.
Both of those stars are given a run for their money when the delightful Miguel Cintron plays his full run of almost a dozen roles, including a dog that might even have put Sylvia to shame. Tera Nicole Miler was in charge of sound effects, billed as Foley Artist, and was good enough to get the laughs and the job for any big Hollywood movie.
Extra accolades go to the versatile Rachel Endrizzi, the director… so many delicious little touches that showed the director’s playful sense of humor and rich understanding of what whole play is about. Look for some of the uniqueness when you go. It stands out. You may remember Endrizzi for what she brought as an actress both here and at Florida Rep to the play, “Almost Main,e” a couple of years ago. She’s got the gift, and brightened the stage on Sanibel as well in the just-closed, highly successful “…Spelling Bee.”
So, if you want to see the whimsical face of Donald Margulies, want to see three really solid performances by actors you already know and like, directed by a whiz kid, and just want to be “entertained” on a night-out of live theater, call the box office at the Alliance for the Arts 239-936-3239. “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” plays Thursday through Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Feb. 24-26. (i.e., you’ve got to move fast to see it), and continue to support live theater in the area.
…Which takes me to a play we saw on Sunday at FGCU. What a contrast! The students and faculty there have put on a new version of Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” that was thoroughly gripping. It gives the words justice and revenge whole new meanings, and it makes war, destruction, and death almost too real.
Barry Gavin, the director/designer, had a vision and he brought it to a powerful fruition. He was mightily helped out by the whole cast, but I want to cite three standout performances: Klytaimestra, as played by faculty member Tyler Layton was exquisitely portrayed. What range, what power, what haunting vengeance was wrapped into her outstanding performance. Her years of training made the difference.
I cite also Professor Jim Brock’s role as Old Man of Argos. His booming bass voice, clearly spoken lines, and his enormous presence added so much to the whole play. And then, a student named Kiara Feliciano, took on the role of the slave, the king’s mistress, the Kassandra role, and owned it totally. She brought something so mature, so reasoned and so passionate, she moved the whole audience.
The play is a genuine work of art, a classic that is well worth the drive. If you’ve never seen much college or university theater, I urge you to get out to FGCU’s Theater Lab and see what an ensemble of gifted students can do.
I just hope there are a couple of tickets left. It will be there until Feb. 27 and plays in the small Black Box space, the Theater Lab. It may be sold out, it’s but well worth the try.
Long on for tickets: theatrelab.fgcu.edu And again, I urge all of us to do what we can to support live theater.