When I took my seat at the Pantages Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis, I had no idea what to expect of the play “All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914”, playing from December 19th to the 22nd. So when the Cantus choir took the stage and started the singing Christmas carols, I was confused. After a few songs, I realized this was not going to be a typical play. The play, directed by Peter Rothstein, shares a true war story that captures the spirit of Christmas during the cease fire in the first year of World War I. The story is conveyed to the audience through three actors, who read real letters from soldiers during the war, while the Cantus choir performed Christmas songs throughout the show.
The performance is intimate and raw. The cast of show was small, it consists of 12 members and an understudy. They were all dressed in black, and performed on a black setting. The lack of a color and equipment in the set turned out to be a blessing. The plain background allowed the audience to hone their attention on the journey and the emotions of the story. While it didn’t have the “jazz” of a broadway show, it made up for it with heart and good acting.
Although there were only three actors, there seemed to be more 20 soldiers quoted. The actors, Matt Rein, David Roberts, and Alan Sorenson, executed each of their roles in high quality. Weather they added Irish or Germans accents, they made each of their characters alive and interesting. Their performances was enriched by the Cantus choir. They would sing in the background behind the actors or they would sing front and center and lead the show. The voices interacted with each other in beautiful harmony. The singers voices ranged bass to tenor and filled the theatre with great renditions of German, French and English carols.
Another attribute to the play was it’s flow. The lighting direction, by Marcus Dilliard, helped connect the singing of the play to the acting. It helped eliminated the awkward pauses and clearly guided the audience to the next quote or scene. Along with that, there was never a moment I couldn’t hear the actors, even though they would sometimes overlap their pieces with the choir. The sound consultant, Steve Barnett, did a brilliant job of making sure every voice was heard at the right time.
The play, only an hour and a half long, conveys emotions and the spirit of the holidays. It’s a perfect play to go to during before Christmas, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in history or enjoys Christmas carols. It’s a perfect play for people who have prior knowledge about World War I as it will enrich your understanding of the war. “All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” is a play that you shouldn’t miss.