Posted on May 5, 2013
5 out of 5
I am so glad this show has been extended. This goes on my list of most rewarding shows. All the elements worked together to create an inspiring and thought-provoking experience.
Script: The story features a young Hasidic Jew whose artistic talent is against the values of his faith community. The dialogue is economical and believable. It expresses with respect different points of view about the nature of art, art versus faith, honor to one’s family and faith community versus individual freedom, whether God would give a talent which God did not want used, and the relationships throughout. It explores the deep urge to fulfill one’s promise and describes the love of a passionate and talented person for his gift, and a family for its faith. If you don’t love art, you will understand something of why others do. If you don’t agree with conservative faith, you will understand something of its value to others.
Acting: Doogin Brown, Mark Robbins, and Manon Halliburton create distinct characters, Mark and Manon several different people and Doogin several different ages. They make these characters believable and appealing. I care about these people and am fascinated by what they believe. Despite their different opinions, they show deep love for each other. Manon and Mark fill their silent moments with beautiful, deeply expressive gestures. There is a moment when they are talking privately at the back window while Doogin is speaking to the audience, and their discussion is so precise in its small gestures, and their choice as to when to take turns and when to speak over each other is so real. Manon makes herself understood by her small head movements and minimal gestures to Mark while others are speaking, and allows for gentle smiles to relieve the dramatic tension. Doogin’s facial expressions reveal broad ranges of emotion, and he suggests the different ages by subtle changes in posture and voice pitch. His monologues to the audience are delivered naturally. I find that many actors struggle with these moments and make them artificial, but Doogin is talking to us with honesty. Mark crafts strong and unique characters and plays them with power and passion. Mark’s face as he looks at Doogin’s paintings is poignant and full of emotion. All the actors show respect for the characters.
Directing: Minimalist set makes the ideas stand out. The actors often turn their backs when they are not in a scene. Mark changes a costume piece from a costume rack on stage to change character. Lighting creates different scenes, and Doogin walks from one space to another to change location or time. Movements are small and props and costumes are few. Instead of seeing a painting, we see Doogin’s face as he creates. The simplicity fits the conservative faith and stands back to let the ideas and relationships soar. Lighting in the windows illustrates symbolic concepts at different times very effectively. The tone is respectfully reverent and intensely passionate.
Once again the Unicorn has found a special script and produced it extremely well. The show makes me think and feel, introduces me to a world outside my experience, and inspires me to apply new ideas to my own world. That is the kind of theater I like best.
For more information, call 816-531-7529 or go to www.unicorntheatre.org