ReAct: 3 Plays

by Deni Luna
NW Asian Weekly

See three plays for the price of one. The Repertory Actors Workshop (ReAct) is presenting three plays at the Theatre Off Jackson: "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year," and "The Bald Soprano."

That's a wide-ranging trilogy.

The evening begins with a lighthearted period comedy, set in 19th Century London. Oscar Wilde's classic "The Importance of Being Earnest" is capably directed by David Hsieh.

This comedy unveils the dual lives of two errant bachelors, each pretending to be a ficticious person named "Ernest." The deception is an innocent ruse, carried on in the interest of romance.

Hsieh's production of this condensed play moves swiftly and the cast uniformly exhibits a fine sense of comedy. Leslie Jean Warner imparts a grand presence as Lady Augusta Bracknell, an over-bearing social matron. Lisa Marie Nakamura crisply portrays Miss Prism, the slightly silly Governess. T.J. Langley plays the arrogant, mischievous Algernon Moncrieff with verve and wit. Emily Jo Testa plays his sweetheart with an equally sly charm.

The second play, "The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year" is directed by Kathy Hsieh (David's sister). She directs this romantic modern fable with a twist.

The play features HE and SHE, who meet by chance in Central Park. From the beginning, HE and SHE seem an unlikely pair.

SHE is an innocent, but feisty young woman who has never spoken to a stranger since she moved from Ohio to New York nine months ago. On the other hand, HE is a high strung agitated type, witha dubious sort of charm.

Still, a romance unfolds. HE tells SHE wildly fantastic stories. But are they fanciful, imaginative tales or is he merely crazy? Hsieh's direction imparts moments of bittersweet sentiment and true suspense.

Stephanie Santos portrays SHE (Santos also plays the piano in the evening's earlier production of "The Importance of Being Earnest"). Gordon Hendrickson plays HE. Together, they are a convincing duo in this eerie romance.

The third play, Eugene Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano" proves a powerful rendition of this absurdist tale. The cast is first-rate, sustaining a high level of energy, while continuing to build tension and suspense.

Director Robert Sindelar has superbly extracted fine nuances and ironies present in theatre of the absurd.

"The Bald Soprano. She always wears her hair in the same style," the charcters offer in polite social chit-chat. That line is the only glimpse of the Bald Soprano in this anti-play.

The six cast members present this challenging play with intelligence and skill. Mark Woodford and Deniece Bleha (as Mr. and Mrs. Smith), exhibit a spectacularly chilling chemistry. Gina Turner and David Nochimson (as Mr. and Mrs. Martin) are disoriented, yet quintessentially stylish and calm. Seanjohn Walsh as the Fire Chief and Susan Ehlerman as the maid effectively heighten the the play's mystery.

Director Robert Sindelar has fully engaged all characters. Some of the play's finest moments are delivered without lines, hidden in the silent reactions of characters. David Nochimson and Gina Turner are particularly animated as they merely listen. Nochimson's face quickly registers flashes of incredulity, suspense, and horror, while listening to his wife's bland dinner table conversation.

The play's free-use of British and Irish dialects is somewhat jarring, but does not measurably detract.

If you like theatre of the absurd, this production of "The Bald Soprano" should suit you well. It is a fine example.

However, if you find you have no taste for absurdist theatre, (particularly after romantic comedy), be forewarned.

The three plays: "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year," and "The Bald Soprano" continue at the Theatre Off Jackson (located at 409-7th Avenue South in the Chinatown / International District) through Saturday, November 25. (no performance on Thanksgiving and no Sunday matinee performance on this last weekend).

General admission is just $12. If that still seems steep, just remember that you're getting three plays for the price of one.

Discounts are available. Students/seniors/military/and disabled tickets are $9. Tickets for children and theatre artists are $6. Inquire about group rates.

There is also $1 off admission with a canned food donation.

By the way, the money from these plays benefits several good causes. Proceeds from these plays will benefit the Northwest AIDS Foundation, the Northwest Asian American Theatre and several other charitable groups in Puget Sound.

For tickets or additional information, call ReAct at 364-3283.


November 25, 1995


© 1995 Northwest Asian Weekly. Reprinted with permission by ReAct.

Home | Box Office | About Us | History | Artists | Donate | Opportunities | Shop | ReAct Links | Contact Us