Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010

Going To A Staged Brothel For Christmas

Carte Blanche’s production of THE HOSTAGE

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Once again, Jimmy Dragolovich puts together a solidly impressive two-tiered set in the tiny space of the Carte Blanche Studio Theatre. Multiple doors open and shut and sometimes slam shut over the course of the comedy. It’s set in a brothel some point in recent history—about 60 years ago to be precise.

The unique benefits of a studio theatre space the size of Carte Blanche’s work really well to the advantage of the production. Yes, The Hostage is set in an Irish brothel in the mid-20th century and no, the accents aren’t exactly authentic all the way through a performance, but Dragolovich and company do a really good job of delivering an atmosphere to the stage that is distinctly less traditional in a month dominated mostly by warm, familiar, fuzzy holiday shows that seem to pop up everywhere.

The set Dragolovich designed and built for the production has a strikingly lived-in feel about it, which is a particularly impressive accomplishment given the fact that it’s as close to the audience as it is. One gets sort of a feel of a decadent squalor about the place as some very attractive people mill in and about the place, occasionally stopping to deliver witty bits of dialogue and whatnot.

Mid-twentieth century playwright Brendan Behan’s central themes and satire on the nature of nationalism and the folly of politics cling quite well to a production that cushions the weight of the playwright’s heavier qualities with a very stylish production that brilliantly brings together the motley energies of a ragtag group of Irish nationalists hanging together in a seedy establishment in Ireland. Ed Barczynski plays the older end of the energy as a man who has lost some sanity in the struggle for independence. On the other end of the age spectrum, a radiantly attractive Emily Craig plays an alpha-attractive prostitute who carries the younger edge of Irish nationalism wearing a uniform consisting of stockings, garters and panties. There’s sexiness of an altogether different kind in the form of Keith R. Smith and Marques Bradford as a couple of fiercely independent transvestites in lingerie. Mix that costuming with a traditional kilt, some berets—garnish with a few firearms and you’ve got one of the more stylish productions to hit Milwaukee stages this month . . .  

Carte Blanche Studios’ production of The Hostage runs through December 29th at Carte Blanche’s space on 1024 South 5th Street. A concise review of the show runs in next week's Shepherd-Express.  

 

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