First Run Theatre's Spectrum 2011 short play festival is as close to a guaranteed good evening of theatre as it gets. Eight plays by seven playwrights… different themes, styles, and takes on life … and all short. So, if you don’t like one, it will be over soon and, in a full evening’s menu of theatre, something is bound to please. Simply stated, there is something for everyone.
The subtitle of Cormac McCarthy's The Sunset Limited is “A Novel in Dramatic Form.” Therefore, it's not surprising that nothing really happens during the play, other than two black-and-white dudes sittin' around talkin'. But most of the time, that is enough, and by the second half of Act II, more than enough. Archie Coleman, Bob Harvey, and director David Houghton have created an intriguing evening of theatre that I hope audiences will support.
To perform an Oscar Wilde play and do it justice is no easy task; but to do a Readers Theater production of an Oscar Wilde play is a far greater challenge, and one in which Soundstage Productions most notably attempts with their latest production of Wilde's An Ideal Husband. For those unfamiliar with Readers Theater, or as Soundstage calls it, "Theater of the Mind," it is a shift in focus from the traditional, more visually stimulating staging of a play to a more auditory and text-driven version. This format of theater requires actors to rely heavily on the voice as their expressive instrument, taking away their ability to employ costumes, sets, blocking, etc. as a way of establishing tone, time or place.
Not only is Soundstage productions the only professional readers' theatre company in the Midwest, but it continues to improve its craft, never pausing to rest on its laurels. The current production, The Soundstage Radio Hour, features vintage scripts from episodes of "My Friend Irma", originally broadcast in 1947, and "The Romance of Helen Trent", originally aired in 1939. Anyone who feels that readers' theatre might be stale and boring is in for a pleasant surprise. The period costuming and pre-show antics from the cast even provide visual stimulation that is normally lacking in readers' theatre.