The newly-formed Screaming Beaver Productions has remounted the 2018 Island Fringe Festival hit, Realizations, written by Kandace Hagen, and once again directed by Rory Starkman. You can read my review of that production here.
I saw the second of five performances scheduled for this remount, playing at, and presented by, The Guild. The final three performances take place this coming Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and I whole-heartedly recommend you go see this challenging, affecting, and effective play.
Many of the plethora of plaudits and few issues I wrote about of the original production still stand. The script is tight, smart and engaging. The male characters, except Marcus, are still too much used simply as unredeeming plot devices and are not fleshed-out in any interesting way. (This may be on purpose, and if so, fine. But I think it’s a mistake to ignore them as actual, dimensional, characters) The acting, for the most part, is quite good, but perhaps not quite as crisp overall as in the original production. (It is hard not to compare the two productions and that production was magic) As a play, it moves along at a great pace and easily holds one’s attention. But the real triumph, in a play full of triumphant elements, is the use of the space and set pieces.
The entire width of The Guild stage is used quite effectively. (although when sitting on the theatre-entrance side of the audience, it was a bit hard to hear what was being said in the bedroom set, all the way across the room. But this is a matter of actor vocal projection, perhaps, and only troublesome at the very top of the play) The main part of the stage was empty, except for a dozen or so two-foot by two-foot (I’m guessing) black boxes. They were constantly being moved and arranged and manipulated by the entire cast between scenes, to create a multitude of different locations and atmospheres. It was no doubt a challenge of choreography, but very much worth it as it proved very, very effective. Only a couple of times did I find it a little bit intrusive to the action happening elsewhere on stage, and maybe a couple more where I wondered what was the point of that last boxy beehive of commotion.
This play deserves to play to full houses. As with the original production (which did play to full, albeit smaller, houses), I wonder if its publicity makes people trepidatious about wanting to see it. Frankly, the publicity for the show isn’t very inviting, and reads more like a university thesis dissertation topic. I understand the desire to warn and prepare people for what they are getting into if they see it, but you also want seats filled. There is undeniable humanity and heart and passion breathed into every moment of this play, but none of that warmth is evident in the publicity. It’d be a shame if people didn’t see it because they were wary of how it is promoted.
The long and the short of it is, despite any of my petty criticisms, Realizations is really good, and everyone involved should be so very proud of this production. It is so very much worth your time, so please go see it, and support locally-created, independent theatre.