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Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010

‘Red Light Winter’ Arrives at Alchemist Theatre

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As impressive as big stages are, the emotion of live theater thrives on a smaller stage. For that reason, smaller theater companies would better serve a production like Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter.After all, a script featuring sex, nudity and the emotional turbulence of human intimacy would be tricky for a big theater company for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, Youngblood Theatre gives Red Light Winter the intimate staging it deserves this month, as it brings Rapp’s drama to the Alchemist Theatre.

The play explores aspects of sexual intimacy in fairly graphic detail. The story involves two former college friends and a prostitute in Amsterdam. Andrew Edwin Voss plays Davis, a successful publishing executive who hires a prostitute to cheer up his depressed, struggling playwright friend, Matt (played by David Rothrock). Voss and Rothrock are roommates in real life, which should only add to the production. It’s one thing to go over lines at formal rehearsals; it’s another thing to have spontaneous discussions about the play during idle moments at home. Voss and Rothrock also studied together at UW-Milwaukee, so the familiarity between the characters should be very natural. This is essential to a script so focused on aspects of human intimacy.

The same offstage familiarity that works to the advantage of Voss and Rothrock is going to be an interesting challenge for Tess Cinpinski, who plays the prostitute. Cinpinski also studied with Voss and Rothrock at UWM, which means she’s going to have to try to distance herself in order to bring across the mystery that serves as the central conflict of the story. The approachable yet exotic beauty of Cinpinski’s stage presence (as witnessed in last year’s production of David’s Redhaired Death) will go a long way toward establishing some of that mystery. 

The show is being directed by Youngblood co-founder Benjamin James Wilson, who is also working on the script for Youngblood’s next show.

Youngblood’s Red Light Winter runs Jan. 21 – Feb. 6 at the Alchemist Theatre in Bay View.

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