The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.
I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.
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Saturday, October 01, 2005
Today, was the start of the theatre season for me. My season subscription at Center Stage. The season started off with everyones favourite feel good classic, King Lear. I was being facetious there, King Lear is anything but feel good. In my opinion it is one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays. Well, enough of that on with my quick review of King Lear at Center Stage.
First off it seems like very year I sit next to this little old lady who wears a gherri curl and carries around an oxygen tank. I’m happy to report that the little old lady was back! However, because the play was upstairs in the Head theatre she was seated behind me instead of beside me like she usually is. The upstairs Head theatre has a different seating configuration than the main downstairs Pearlstone theatre. The seating configuration for the Head theatre is changeable so you never quiet know where you will be seated. However, with the Pearlstone you always know where you will be seated.
Stephen Markle and Heidi Armbruster in Center Stage's production of King Lear
On the right side of the stage there appeared to be a black trash bag like curtain. Also there was a huge boulder on that side of the stage. The walls were painted white. I didn’t much care for the set. As it appears to have been done on the cheap.
However, I really loved Catherine Zuber’s costumes. I especially liked the dress that Goneril wore. It was this long green dress. It had a nice high fashion look to it. If I were tall and skinny I would buy that dress. I also liked the coat that Cordelia wore towards the end of the play. It was a long fake fur lined coat. It looked spectacular.
I also liked the unusual aspect of the men’s costumes. They all seemed to be wearing long coats. Edmund wore a long black leather coat which I suppose is now modern costuming shorthand for saying he’s the bad guy in the play. Also the majority of the male characters in the first act appeared to be wearing sandals. I found this choice of footwear a bit odd yet endearing. To me this was the men in long coats and sandals play.
PLAY & ACTING REVIEW
Stephen Markle was fantastic as King Lear. I wasn’t quiet sure what to expect from him. My only exposure to Markle was when he played Mel Hayes on One Life To Live. Mel Hayes was a kick ass character. He was one of those rare characters that walked the walk and talked the talk. God, I miss Mel! Markle was outstanding as King Lear!
Clearly, the standout best performer in this play was Tony Ward who played Edgar. I liked how he switched up accents when he was secretly aiding his newly blind father, the Earl of Gloucester. It was seamless how he went from a Shakesperean southern accent to a Shakespearean upper class American accent. The fact that Ward was versatile in his acting choices makes me in awe of his talent.
I really liked Jon David Casey’s portrayal of Edmund. His character was the one I felt most sympathetic towards. I felt that he did a bang up good job in bringing Edmund to life.
While watching the play I got this eery feeling that Casey, the actor who plays Edmund, reminded me of someone. I couldn’t quiet put my finger on it until the second act. This was when he came out dressed in an outfit that screamed U2. Then it came to me the guy is an absolute dead ringer for Bono. I even went back to the playbill and my god even in his headshot he looks like Bono! During most of the second act I almost half way expected him to start singing, Sunday Bloody Sunday or start talking in an Irish accent about third world debt relief. Before the production is over I must get a picture with him!!! Just so that I can play a practical joke on my friends about Bono being in Baltimore and me hanging out with him. “Look Dude, Bono and me are like this...”
The other borderline U2 flashback moment I had was also during the second act where Michael Rudko’s Kent is wearing a cap that’s reminiscent of the kind that U2 guitarist, The Edge wears. I should say right now that Rudko doesn’t look that much like the Edge. The one thing I can say about Rudko is that he’s a great actor. I like the fact that he portrayed Kent with a New York street thug Shakespearean accent.
Diana LaMar was deliciously cruel as Regan, one of King Lears three daughter. My goodness she even shot someone down with a gun. As I’ve written before I loved the costume that Sarah Knowles, Goneril wore. In addition to her character having great fashion sense Knowles turned in a fine performance as one of King Lears Daughter. Then we reach a quandry with Heidi Armbruster’s Cordelia. While watching the play I could see her acting. She seemed kind of cartoonish like an adult character on a children’s show. Then again it might have been difficult to play a pure of heart type character as anything but innocently cartoonish. I mean there really aren’t any heard edges to make a character like Cordelia three dimensional as there are on her sisters, Reagan and Goneril.
Lastly but not least the legendary Laurence O’Dwyer was back again. This time he played the part of the Fool. Over the years O’Dwyer has been in countless Center Stage productions. He turned in yet another solid performancel. Musician Karen Hansen was also back again doing incidental music. The music she composed was nothing to write home about. I wish it were more melodic as it has been in past productions.
The most borderline x-rated moment in the play was when Edmund suggestively put his hand up Goneril’s dress.
Cruelty to a senior citizen moment is the scene where Laurence O’Dwyer and Markle are in a rainstorm. I’m worried that at O’Dwyer’s age he might be in danger of developing pneumonia with this constant exposure to dampness night after night. Senior citizens are not known for having a strong immune system. Here’s hoping that Larry makes it through the run of the play without developing any serious illnesses.
The Bono look alike award goes to Jon David Casey.
The Edge look alike award goes to Michael Rudko.
The trashiest curtain in Baltimore goes to the giant trash bag curtain in King Lear.
Worst stage design so far this year goes to Robert Israel
Best Costume Design so far this year goes to Catherine Zuber.
WHAT I AM WEARING:
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