Posts Tagged ‘Abby Turner’

Burns and Turner Review Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” by Walking the dog at PS 21 [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
The Cherry Orchard @  PS21, Chatham

by Gail Burns and Abby Turner

Gail Burns: I always start my reviews of Chekhov with the disclaimer that you are either a Chekhov person or not a Chekhov person – it is a genetic trait like blue eyes or freckles – and there is nothing I can write and nothing any director/cast/crew can do to change that. I am a Chekhov person. What many people find inscrutible and dull I find fascinating and clever and often side-splittingly funny.

That being said, The Cherry Orchard, his last play, which was written over a period of years and finally performed in 1904, is not his funniest even though Chekhov himself called it a “farce.” Neither the original director, the legendary Constantin Stanislavski, nor David Anderson here in this Walking the dog production, played it for laughs. This production is also based on a translation by Carol Rocamora that is new to me.

Abby Turner: Obviously we need one of your snappy summaries of the play. You are so good at it, and you know the play much better than I do.

Gail: Liubóv Andréyevna Ranyévskaya (Lora Lee Ecobelli) and her brother Leonid Andréyich Gáyev (Glenn Barrett) arrive back at their ancestral home in May, when the cherry orchard is in bloom, with their family and servants. Mme. Ranyévskaya has an adopted daughter, Varya (Lily Balsen), who runs the estate along with Firs the butler (David Wade Smith), Semyón Yepikhódov (Gabriel Rodriguez) the clerk/bookkeeper, and Dunyasha (Natalie Li-Ting Wong) the maid. Ánya (Josephine Elwood), Mme. Ranyévskaya’s biological daughter, who is all of seventeen, arrives with mother and her uncle, along with Anya’s governess Charlotta (Nancy Rothman) and a manservant Yásha (Joseph Freeman). Neighbors Yermolái Alexéyich Lopákhin (John Romualdi) and Boris Semyónov-Pishchik (Philip X. Levine) are permanent fixtures in the family’s life, as is a “perpetual student” Pétya Trofimov (Paul Boothroyd) who is in love with Ánya. Kevin Kilb plays both the stationmaster and a down-trodden passerby who comes begging during a family outing in Act II, and Simon Frishkoff plays two other small roles.

The Cherry Orchard is all about change, and the inability of the this family to accept or manage it. Their country estate, including the house and a sizable cherry orchard as well as other lands, is being auctioned off to pay the mortgage. Although different options for keeping the house, if not the land, in the family are proposed, the family remain immobilized by a lack of courage and imagination, and ultimately the estate is purchased by Lopákhin, a noveau riche merchant whose ancestors were literally owned by the family as serfs. Although it is rumored throughout that he will marry to Varya, he never proposes, and so the house and land passes from the family’s grasp forever.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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Burns and Turner Review Split Knuckle Theatre’s “Endurance” at Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Endurance at Shakespeare & Company is a voyage into cold, harsh metaphors about resolute individuals and uncaring corporations. Here, newly promoted Claims Manager Walter Spivey (Toomey) receives his marching orders from the Corporate Powers That Be (Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie and Greg Webster wearing metal wastebaskets on their heads.) (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Endurance at Shakespeare & Company is a voyage into cold, harsh metaphors about resolute individuals and uncaring corporations. Here, newly promoted Claims Manager Walter Spivey (Toomey) receives his marching orders from the Corporate Powers That Be (Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie and Greg Webster wearing metal wastebaskets on their heads.) (photo: Kevin Sprague)

by Gail Burns and Abby Turner

“Optimism is true moral courage” – Sir Ernest Shackleton

Abby Turner: Wow! Mega wow. “Endurance” – created and performed by Split Knuckle Theatre – blew me away! A fresh, dark, brilliant, and silly disaster drama of edgy intelligence. I just want to begin with an important piece of advice: call the box office now.

Gail Burns: Right! This show is only at Shakespeare & Company until July 15 and it is not to be missed. I keep reminding my neighbors to make use of their 40% Berkshire County Resident Discount, but there are lots of other discounts available and don’t forget the ½ Tix Booths (Locations and Hours here)

Abby: I realize that I am going to have to watch out for too many superlatives, but I am still in the heady excitement of an opening night standing ovation.

Who would have thought that the saga of four insurance agents scrambling to save their jobs in the midst of economic chaos could be a heroic drama as these 99%-ers struggle against extraordinary odds in the soulless, merciless absurdity of corporate culture?

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Burns and Turner Review “Doubt” by Berkshire Actors Theatre at the Berkshire Museum [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, June 29th, 2012
Father Flynn (Patrick White) and Sister James (Clover Bell-Devaney)  (Photo: Arianne Stuerzel)

Father Flynn (Patrick White) and Sister James (Clover Bell-Devaney) (Photo: Arianne Stuerzel)

by Gail Burns and Abby Turner

Gail Burns: This marks my first reviewing outing with my friend Abby Turner. Abby is a fellow alumna of Sarah Lawrence College with a background in fine art, design, and merchandising. She has often been my “date” for the theatre and I value her opinions and insight. Abby, what were your impressions of the Berkshire Actors Theatre (BAT) production of John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt: A Parable”?

Abby Turner: Gail, you are one of the rare people who did not see the film based on this play starring the fabulous Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman – so you are coming to this with a fresh eye and I am seeing through the Streep lens – which is hard on any play.

Gail: True. Streep and Hoffman are VERY tough acts to follow! The film was released the same weekend I saw and reviewed “Doubt” for the first time (in a Town Players production in 2008), so I consciously stayed away. But then it is no secret that I NEVER go to the movies anyway.

Abby: The theatre experience is very different, and this production holds up quite well. There is an intimacy and immediacy to the theatre which is very compelling in this play which is so much about character and what one comes to believe. And in the face of a lack of irrefutable proof, beliefs seem about what we know from the pit of our stomach. As Sister Aloysius, Peggy Pharr Wilson is very clear about what her gut tells her. She is a deeply unlikable character, but one of great conviction and integrity.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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