Friday, July 20, 2007

Ransom of Red Chief

I managed to sneak in a show last weekend! It almost felt like a novelty after the past few weeks of seeing nothing.

I saw the show the way one should see a family show--with a child.

O'Henry's short story is by far one of my favorite short stories. It's quick, it's fun, it's got a biting sense of humor. It's also one that would seem to lend itself well to a stage treatment. The adaptation done at Riverwalk--one by Anne Coulter Martens--dates itself far more than the timeless short story.

It's a version that seems to have been written in the day when three characters and an 80-minute show would have been insufficient for theatrical audiences. The script instead takes a very elegant short story and lengthens it into two acts with a whole host of characters that aren't all that important to the plot or to the theme.

So while the script weakened the short story by watering it down with too much else, the performance of the play succeeded in being a delightful children's show that entertains families. I was also especially impressed with the performances of Nic and Lexie Roberts as Red Chief and a young girl in the park. Both of them had tons of charisma and approached their roles with great energy and enthusiasm.

The adults in the cast also did well with what little the script had to offer them. Gordon Hicks as one of the crooks did a wonderful job of catching the archetype of a smooth-talking con man who just can't quite make things go his way.

The costumes were also fantastic, staying true to the period while communicating much about the characters of the show.

What's more important--the children attending the show seemed to have a blast and take great delight in watching a child beat up an adult.

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