Unveiling

Video clip from Unveiling

Pictures from Unveiling

Photos © Hilsdon Photography

Read two 5 star reviews of Havel’s Unveiling from DC Theatre Scene and DC Metro Theatre Arts.

DC Theatre Scene Review

 

DC Metro Theatre Arts Review

 

 

2 comments on “Unveiling”

  1. Eamonn Foley

    I joined this savvy group of theater goers with nearly no prior knowledge of “Candide”. I believe I started reading it in French for school, and promptly gave up. Perhaps this grants me the unbiased eye.

    Arriving late, I missed the Overture that has bothered so many, so I’ve really nothing to criticize nor herald. My opening shot was of the Baron’s castle in Westphalia. As a lover of all things 18th century, I was immediately seized by the costuming, attitudes, and personalities reborn on stage. Mind you, I still have no idea what is going to happen…

    And I certainly would never have guessed what followed. It was a wonderful melange of cutting French wit, coupled with classic Algonquin Round Table garnishes, and beautiful (read: stunningly difficult) music. This was “Tom Jones” meets Woody Allen meets “Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure” meets Old Testament quality struggles meets Handel’s “Messiah”. It may have been the most entertaining bit of theater I’ve ever seen.

    The set was very simple but adapted itself well to each scene change. Each change was done almost entirely with props with the exception of one or two scenes. In fact, it was the scenes that incorporated too many tables, or beds, or baths, or golden pyramids(…) that I liked the least. They drew attention away from the set’s Escher-like play with dimensions and from the artistry of lighting. The stage and/or the actors were miked and there was never an issue with distortion or feedback. The greatest compliment the sound technicians can receive is that they went unnoticed. Well done! The technical aspects of the play succeeded almost entirely, and what little tarnish there was did not harm the production.

    Being a satire, it was of course full of comedic back and forth that the actors nailed. These were prickly exchanges and statements that left half the audience clutching their sides and the other half hissing. I left Sidney Harman Hall with a wealth of new Catholic, Jewish, Anabaptist, Gypsy, Philosopher, and ‘Blond’ (an equal share to Candide and Cunegonde) jokes. This type of humor is quite difficult to nail, as it is utterly dependent on the entire cast being completely focused. There is no losing yourself in the moment when you are throwing Dorothy Parker jabs. The leads were on and the ensemble in perfect harmony, never skipping a beat, never dropping the ball, and not a single joke flopped.

    The more perceptive among you may have already deduced that I loved it. Well, most of it. Certainly, 90% of it.

    ———

    What I would have had different:

    Cunegonde was perfectly at ease on stage. She connected well with Candide. Her work with The Old Lady was tight as a drum. Her singing was impressive. Quite impressive. Perhaps too impressive? If it looks, from 75-100 feet away, that you’re on the 25th mile of the New York City Marathon, something has gone awry. The veins stood out on her neck like thick cords one should use to repel down the north face of K2. I was less disappointed than I was worried about it. By the end of the show, the tell tale signs of a stressed voice were quite audible. A veteran of many a rock concert, I’ve become quite good at noticing when a singer’s voice has reached its threshold of abuse and from there on out will begin to fall past the point of no return. For Cunegonde, it took until the final two or three pieces to reach that point. The role has no ‘arias’ at that point, so the actress is able to make the mad dash to the finish before all hell breaks loose. However, I’d offer good odds that she’ll be reaching the P.N.R. earlier and earlier with each performance. Either there needs to be an adjustment to her mic or a pot of honeyed tea with lemon brewing constantly off stage. Perhaps an investment in cough-drop stocks?

    El Dorado was the only chunk of the play where I began to notice just how long I’d been sitting down. After decapitations, rapes, pillages, shipwrecks, inquisitions, and mosquito-bitten Jesuits, El Dorado beginssss toooo draggggggg. Perhaps that was a choice. It is, after all, the Golden City. Is a slow pace necessary for an idyllic life? I felt as if I’d wandered out of an 18th century French satire (or well, the 20th century’s adaptation) and into the land of the lotus-eaters. Fortunately, Candide and Cacambo (who could not have given a more perfect performance) shared my distaste and quickly departed. I only have a general criticism, which is no help at all. El Dorado simply rubbed me the wrong way.

    ————

    The most surprising aspect of the show was its length. When I was told that I was going to a 3 hour +, potentially musical event, I was less than thrilled. Of course, being late, I was unable to have a brisk, invigorating word with a Red Bull or a 5 Hour Energy Drink. Walking into the theater, I was extremely worried that I would awake at the end of the show confronted with the absolute embarrassment of my girlfriend, absolute fury of my mother, absolute condescension of my mother’s friends, and the absolute horror of my seatmates now covered in drool…I had no reason to fear. The entire play, all 3 hours, I was at the very edge of my seat and leaning so far forward I was practically crawling over the row in front of me. One does not get bored at the Shakespeare Theatre’s “Candide”. I yawned once, half way through intermission, when I leaned back and began leafing through various pages of the program. El Dorado seemed slow only in comparison to the rest of the play. I still watched with unblinking intensity. If you think to use it as a reason not to go, you’re a fool. The scene lasts all of five minutes and is buoyed by several bits genius from Candide and Cacambo.

    Finally —

    The Good: The cast nailed every single moment.

    The Bad: It can hardly be called bad, but if I must, El Dorado.

    The Ugly: Cunegonde’s neck during ‘Glitter and Be Gay’.

  2. Pingback: CANDIDE | Alliance for New Music-Theatre

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