August 13th, 2008


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Ashland, Oregon
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by Luis Alfaro

A discussion of this performance needs be brief.  The reviewer shouldn't put more effort into the recap than the play writer did into his creation.

This wandering, pointless story is told with juvenile simplicity, no character development, and plenty of sophomoric words coming out of the mouths of inconsistent characters.  Worse, director Tracy Young apparently didn't bother to read the play since her playbill synopsis referred to both themes and details which were not present in the offal delivered to the audience.  Her failure to latch on to any coherent narrative or personality is abject.

There is an attempt to explain the weak connectedness and inappropriate speeches as a result of Alfaro's magical realism. No. Thanks for the artsy-sounding red herring, but that's not it.  Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is simply a horrid blob.  Maybe it was a great workshop, but it is not a play. Shame on Artistic Director Bill Rauch for selecting it.  Bill, sacrificing quality on the altar of novelty is a stupid strategy.

Two reasons not to walk out mid-act: 

  1. G. Valmont Thomas found vignettes in the jumble of words given him to say.  His scenes were revelatory when either intentionally humorous or intentionally not.  Thomas' insights were isolated and not given a chance by the script to move the story, but they were fun to watch.
  2. The avenue stage set by Robert Brill was fanciful, bright, and effectively magical.

That's it. We didn't walk out, but I recommend exercising your membership benefits and turning in the tickets you hold for this inexcusable waste of time.

Ozdachs Rating:  Rating 1 out of 5 

"Galen 2007"

A View from the Bridge

Ashland, Oregon
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

A View from the Bridge at Oregon Shakespeare FestivalA View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller

Most plays in theaters today are snappy, fast-faced reactions to the enveloping, careful productions of the mid-1900's.  They're not stodgy, not slow. We recognize what they are telling us through shared shortcut symbolism.  I appreciate their directness and focus on their themes.They reflect our times

But, seeing them had made me forget the rich language, dialog, characterization, and the details of everyday life in Arthur Miller at his best.  And, this production of A View from the Bridge is two and a half hours of classic slice-of-life mid-Century tragedy.  It's a standout treat with story, meaning behind the story, and sympathetic flawed people behind the meaning of the story.  

Five minutes into the play I had the first "Oh, my!" moment as I listened to the chatter on stage.  It'd been a long while since I last heard the scene set so completely and yet naturally with words.  The "Oh, my!"s continued throughout the show, as characters talked and did what you knew that had to.  There were no surprises, yet no moments where the tension eased or my attention wandered.

Under the flawless direction of Libby Abbel, the actors provided the best work I've seen each of them in. 

Collapse )
Of course, the political and social themes appeal to my taste in theater.  A good story with social content = great play.  OSF's production of A View from the Bridge makes the most of this classic work and delivers a few hours of great theater.

Ozdachs Rating:  Rating 5 out of 5