Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

Pleasantly Turning To Stone

Renaissance Theeaterworks's Gorgons

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Whenever two people are onstage, it’s never ust two people onstage. There are also two characters onstage—personas the the two people are wither consciously or unconsciously projecting at an audience. When the characters in question are also actors things get dazzlingly complicated. This is the big central thing I’ve fallen in love with in Renaissance Theaterworks production of Don Nigro’s Gorgons.

Jennfer Rupp and Marcella Kearns play aging screen actresses working together on a colossally bad Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?—style drama. The actresses play characters who are actresses who are occasionally seen playing characters. Combine this with the fact that the two actresses may not be completely honest with each other off camera and you end up with something that one hell of a lot of fun to pick apart.

There’s a kind of repetition in the constant barrage of comic insults between the two rival actresses draw an audience’s attentions tow the deeper conflicts between the two characters. One finds oneself paying very close attention to verbal AND non verbal dialogue between the two characters. I had a huge amount of fun just watching Kearns work with her character to walk in and out of various roles as things progress in the work the two actresses are doing. Watch her reactions to the shifting dialogue and you can see her compensating for the change in dialogue and shifting roles between the two actresses. Rupp’s character Ruth says something slightly out of synch with the direction the conversation may have been going in before and you can actually see the dicision to switch gears make the adjustment in her mind as one mask becomes the next. It’s a huge amount of fun to watch.

Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Gorgons runs through November 6th at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 414-291-7800. A concise review of the show runs in the next issue of the Sheperd-Express.


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