Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for us
A CurtainUp Review
Apparition: an uneasy play of the underknown
By Liza Zapol
Accomplished director Les Waters does the best he can with the convoluted text, especially given that writer Anne Washburn's stage directions state: "With certain interesting exceptions, to be determined by the director, characters shall not move within scenes." Those rare moments of movement are notable. One of the most memorable scenes is between a devil and his demon (the excellent T. Ryder Smith and the underused Garrett Neergaard), in which the demon eats the flesh of a small animal (cat or dog, he is unsure which, but he eats them because he likes "to crunch all the tiny bones"). He is then circled like prey by the devil, trying to convince him to eat a dead baby in a paper bag.
Nearly every frightening monologue ends identically with the lights failing, and the character describing being left in the dark in haunted environs. The lighting design also keeps the characters often in the dark. This design element seems to be the most integrated and sophisticated, defining the environment of the scenes. The author also gives another directive in her playtext: "Space is defined by light." and lighting designer Jane Cox uses an incredible variety of often dim light sources: reading lights over music stands, flashlights in the dark, glowing masks, and a glimpse of a face in a window.
From the moment the house lights begin to dim, Darren West's sound design warns us of the frightening things to come. His deft attention to detail creates a world where you are not scared by what is said, but what you think is heard. In this play, where each story finds one or all of the characters frozen with fear, West's soundscape plunges you into the character's nightmare. Whether they be growls of unearthly beasts or faint whispers that beckon softly from the dark, the audience members cringe in their seats. The thoughtful aural nuances help Mr. Waters' production sustain a level of tension that needs to be present to carry the audience through these dark woods.
The strong cast and the support by a wonderful production team, notwithstanding, the underlying text is missing enough coherence to give these elements sense. There are enough frightening moments to keep the audience alert, but there is not enough meaning in the language for the stories to haunt us when we get home. What stays is the searing image of a dimly lit face in a window, a glowing mask, a high pitched crackle.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
>6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.