Monday, September 10, 2007

Mrs. Warren's Profession

I always feel like I should start these entries with a disclaimer--I'm not reviewing, I'm rambling. Mind, I don't say "just" rambling, because I think rambling is one more facet of the conversation and has value in its own place. However, the rambling doesn't have the structure of a review or the in-depth insight of a critique.

That said, shall I start rambling about BoarsHead's production of Mrs. Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw?

I went Friday night, their official opening. It was easily the best house of the shows I attended this weekend, with all of the middle sections well-sold. Many of the people you see in the Boarshead audience aren't people that you see anywhere else--they are very loyal, long-time patrons of this theater.

This production marks the third Shaw that has been done in recent months locally. Sunsets with Shakespeare did St. Joan and Lansing Community College did Back to Methuselah. All three productions are very different in tone and approach despite being the same playwright. Of course, that was part of Shaw's strength--his versatility.

I suppose it is also worth noting that the play contains two celebrities--names that would be known outside of Lansing. Playing the two lead roles are Paula Prentiss and Prentiss Benjamin. I'm not one who can talk much about movies or those who star in them. I didn't go see movies while growing up and as an adult I've been too busy seeing live theater to catch many movies. Nor do we have a television on which I could catch things on video. When I do go see movies, they tend to be on the geeky side. In fact, you could rightfully say I have pretty low taste in movies. :)

So I don't know much about Paula Prentiss can't tell you whether her stage acting compares favorably with the other work she's done. I can say that I enjoyed the dynamic of mother and daughter on stage. There also seemed to be more than a few winks over the scandal of the mother's profession.

Now, my ignorance must assuredly did not spread to the rest of the audience. When Paula Prentiss first made her entrance as Mrs. Warren, she did so to applause. Director James Glossman must have anticipated this because her first entry was an extremely long cross.

Generally speaking, there were a lot of long crosses in this show. It made the set seem huge as people had to tramp back and forth.

BoarsHead can be pleased with its opener--it's a solidly performed show that has been received warmly by its audiences. There is a great deal of charm and warmth between the mother-daughter team and the rest of the cast provides numerous comedic moments. The play was at its best when it was being comic. The dramatic moments were challenging because of their portrayal of mores that are mostly foreign to us now.

When you go, leave yourself a little extra time. Construction downtown makes the theater extremely difficult to get to. It's doable--but you need to give yourself time to make those extra turns to circle through the neighborhood. Consider it a pre-show adventure.

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