Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thoughts on Tom Williams's Review of Desire - Heh heh heh.

So, we got our first review in for Desire Under the Elms and I just wanted to comment on the various elements put down, as well as the inaccuracies. My notes are in italicized parentheses.

1.Running time is 2 hrs, 45 min with 2 intermissions - (It actually ran 2 hours and 5 minutes last night with both intermissions included. Tom arrived around 7:15, so he must have included his lobby time. The fact that we did O'Neill in such a short amount of time is pretty GD good. So, being that the time check is completely off, please read the rest with that grain of salt.)

Through June 3, 2006

O’Neill work suffers from dramatic overload

Classics like Eugene O’Neill plays are dangerous grounds for storefront theatres. (GreyZelda likes Danger!) Desire Under Elms, O’Neill’s dream inspired 1924 play is seldom produced and plays out as much too dramatic, stilted and over written. (I guess "Bacon's bacon" and "Ayah" is too overwritten?) This isn’t one of O’Neill’s landmark plays. (It isn't????????? Hahahahahahahahahhahaha.)

Gray (Grey) zelda’s production has several problems. First the decision to make the rural farm accents sound like West Virginian hillbilly (Why must people regard West Virginians as hillbillies, I ask you? What isn't remembered is that West Virginia is closer to New England than Chicago is. AND, people have said that the cadence in Appalachian speach is closer to what Shakespeare originally wrote for than most other dialects. And Tom never would have said this if he didn't know that the director prides himself on being from West Virginia. That really has nothing to do with anything. It's like a gay reviewer ripping on the feminism in Mary Girard. Not a needed comment.) instead of the New England accent O’Neill used in the script didn’t work for me. (The actors made a point to follow O'Neill's script exactly as written. There are a couple of moments where things might accidentally get southern because the characters are rural, but . .. they're pretty eastern, in our opinions.) The uneven accents diminished the power of O’Neill’s words. Next, the decision to have Aris Tompoulis play the father as an overwhelming, intimidating wound-too-tight emotionally explosive character gave an almost farcical tone to the work. Tompoulis so over plays Ephraim that he telegraphs his wickedness unrealistically. (That is just crazy. Aris is one of the best actors we've ever had the good fortune to work with. He plays Ephraim as O'Neill intended and fucking rocks!!!!!!!!! We are so lucky to work with this man and feel that everybody should come see the show simply because of him. He's amazing. Everyone else that has seen the show has been blown away by him.) One wonders what Abbie (Melissa Kuhlmann) saw in him besides his farm to get her to marry him? (Abbie does marry him for the farm, number one. Number two . . . ARIS ROCKS!!!!!!!!)

The slow pace (Again - 2 hours and 5 minutes? Not bad.) and labored (They're farmers. They labor.) performances made this relic tedious. I have problems with O’Neill’s script that stretches our suspension of disbelief. I liked Tom Gordon’s take on Eben, the son who struggles with lust and conviction as he attempts to capture the farm away from his hated father. The location, both as to geographic area and era (1850’s ?) was unclear giving a strangeness to the accents. (We wanted it to be anytime, but kept it in New England. It's stated in the program.) The melodramatic style worked against the production. (Doesn't Tom Williams like musicals? He also liked Mary Girard which was WAY more melodramatic than our version of Desire Under the Elms. Plus . . . here's the basic story line: Father brings hot stepmother home. She pretends to be the sons' new mother even though they're her age. She gets into the youngest son right under the old skunk's nose. Things get hot and heavy. She kills to get her way. There's a lot of melodrama.) I guess the real Eugene O’Neill fans will find this work engaging, I didn’t. (We also make a point to cater to literary types. If O'Neill fans like the show, we've done our jobs. I didn't know that there were two types of fans but now I do - those who like O'Neill and those who don't. It's kind of like the Rolling Stones/Beatles controversy. Cool!) It seemed over acted and stiff. (OK, OK, everyone's entitled to their opinions.)

Desire Under the Elms needs to be put back into the archives with other outdated works. (I strongly disagree. Great works should live. And GreyZelda will help them do so. We proudly live in the outdated. We will always make great literature live. Thank you, Eugene O'Neill!!!!!)

Not Recommended (GreyZelda recommends it!!!! As does great literature! If you want to sit at home and watch American Idol, please do so, but if you'd like to give your brain a good, pleasurable workout . . . come see this show!)

Tom Williams ( Tom's a great guy and we love him coming to our show, but I think this particular review is really off. I often don't argue with the reviews and just let them be, but . . . If you've seen the show and would like to discuss your opinions further with this critic - here's his email address:
Tom99@chicagocritic.com for comments

2 comments:

goose said...

All right, here's the thing: Tom Williams is a moron, and his opinion is worth nothing. On top of that, he's an asshole. He reviewed a show I was in once and made a crack about an actress's weight (something like, "and what's the deal with _____'s weight? She needs to lose a few pounds.") while saying he hated the show because he didn't agree with the fact that the characters try to cheat each other out of money. He took out the crack about the actress's weight before putting the review up, but still - the guy's an idiot. While reviewing that show, he also ate food on a table in the lobby that was there for some fundraiser for another theater compand. I tell you what, if I'd have been in your show, he would have absolutely torn it apart, because we do not like each other. We really got into it. The guy's a dick.

And seriously, who is HE? chicagocritic.com? Who cares? He's nobody, and he never will be. He's nothing, and he's not worth one ounce of grief from you. Ever.

-dg

greyzelda said...

Thanks, Dave . . . it's always interesting to get the reviewer who not very knowledgeable on theatre. It's still making me laugh today. There wasn't one honest statement in anything he wrote.

Have an awesome weekend and we can't wait to see you!

bz