Thursday, June 12, 2008

Red Herring

The Red Herring is a delightful opening to this year's Summer Circle season at MSU.

I continue to be impressed that they are able to solicit enough donations to be able to offer free outdoor theater while paying their actors. It's a great thing for both the students and the community.

Theater Professor Rob Roznowski directed The Red Herring, a show described as a comic film noir spoof. Written by Michael Hollinger, the play follows the antics of three couples as they struggle with loving each other. Every scene comes with its own plot twist and actors Kristen Barrett, Phil Ashbrook, Caitlin Inman, Hazen Cuyler Natzmer, Michelle Meredith, and Dave Wendelberger juggle multiple roles. All of them did a superior job.

I especially enjoyed Caitlin Inman as Joe McCarthy's daughter and Michelle Meredith as Mrs. Kravitz and multiple other parts. Inman was spot-on as the sweet Midwestern girl with too many secrets to keep. She was vibrant and handled well the intricacies of a role that required precise confusion (the actress had to be precise while the character was confused). Michelle Meredith had perfect comedic timing in the various roles that she played and each of them were completely different.

The only individual part I didn't care for was that of the coroner. He was too over-the-top in a style that didn't match the other characters.

I was also impressed with the ingeniousness of the set dressing and set piece. A single set piece on casters doubled as a dock, a bed, a couch, an autopsy slab, a boat, and everything else that was needed. It contributed to a quickly paced show and was highly effective. There was also an attractive backdrop painted in black and white with a jigsaw of scenes of varying relevance to the script. It was a very artistic piece of work.

I now look forward to the remaining shows!

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