“Faust” at the Minnesota Opera

Though Gounod’s Faust is one of the 20 most performed operas in the United States, a full production of the work is not often staged. With elaborate sets and costuming and the ballet of Act V, houses often truncate the opera or stage minimalist productions to manage expenses. We have the enormous pleasure of the Minnesota Opera’s full staging of Faust and the breathtaking choreography of Doug Varone. From the orchestra’s first tuning to the falling curtain, the Minnesota Opera’s production is gorgeously produced, fantastically acted, and expertly sung. Paul Groves, as Faust, is credible as both the jaded aging philosopher and the hesitating young suitor. Continue Reading

Theater note: Startling “Love Person”

Mixed Blood’s Love Person is startling and evocative—but when the play began, I was skeptical. Several flat panel television screens hung above the stage. A man was reading a poem in Sanskrit, while what I presumed to be the original written Sanskrit trailed across the screens in lovely, impenetrable, script. Three women listened with varying attentiveness (two conversing in ASL) as techno music vibrated softly in the background. At first blush, the play seemed an ambitious and well-meaning mess. Continue Reading

The Pillowman: Review

Martin’s McDonagh’s The Pillowman is a blend of anti-totalitarian agitprop, surreal Kafkaesque narrative, and ripped-from-the-headlines crime story. Thematically and structurally, the play is a challenge to stage. Wendy Knox and Frank Theater’s production at the Guthrie is both compelling and uneven. The Pillowman runs through October 14 at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. Set in some vaguely Cold War Eastern Bloc state, the play opens on an interrogation room and three men. Continue Reading

Private Lives: Review

Noel Coward’s comedy of conflict skewers the decadence of the upper class. Many of the Western plays of the 1930s were intended to be escapes from the grim realities of the decade. Europe and the United States were attempting to forget one war while heading inevitably toward another. Economic crisis had crippled a nation. Noel Coward’s Private Lives succeeds at entertaining, while still providing a compelling lens into gender and class. Continue Reading

Review: Merchant of Venice at the Guthrie

The Merchant of Venice is, at its root, a play about rules and culture. Each scene is an exploration of contract and expectation. Antonio (Richard S. Iglewski) is bound by the particulars of his deal with Shylock (Robert Dorfman) and Portia (Michelle O’Neill) is restricted by the marriage details left behind by her father. Bassanio (Ron Menzel) is obligated by his friendship to Antonio and Jessica (Christine Weber) is compelled by the religion and customs of her new marriage. The drama of the play arises from tensions of constraint. Continue Reading