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A CurtainUp Review
By Zoe Erwin-Longstaff
Inner Voices, currently running at Premiere Stage’s W. 30th St. Theatre, presents us with three musical soliloquiess. Billed as “explorations of courage, loss and acceptance,” it is not so much these themes that connect the three presentations as it is the theatrical form, a single character on stage sharing through song their often bewildering streams of consciousness.
Borrowed Dust starts us off. Jen Schriver’s delicate lighting intrigues by beginning with focusing our attention on a backpack rather than on the human figure nearby. The backpack, we soon learn, belonged to the deceased Gabe, brother of our protagonist George (Hunter Foster). Gabe died just two weeks ago while snowshoeing in Colorado. Foster exudes that demonstrably fun, splashy quality characteristic of musical theatre performers. Sometimes this feels at odds with Foster’s otherwise gruff characterization. This is less noticeable while he remains parked downstage, but sppears too polished and choreographed when he moves,
Mother and I sat,
Facing the desk
Gabe’s lonely pack.
Mother couldn’t, wouldn’t
Look at me….
— Borrowed Dust
Effective moments are peppered throughout. The se include the cellphone call George picks up at his friend’s apartment when the fate of his brother is disclosed; also, a conversation with Gladyes, a terse coroner. Not coincidentally, both these moments include other characters for Foster to embody, which adds a lucidity not otherwise achieved as we are left to grapple with confusing shards of information thrown at us; for instance, outlandish revelations like “oh yeah, by the way your brother is adopted”.
Next up is Arlington which is initially the funniest of the trio. We are privy to the fatuous impressions and perturbations of Sarah Jane Alexandra Silber), a twitchy, excitable young war-bride. Played with surpassing skill, this role regrettably has too little meat to it. Indeed, the piece has to repeat the same themes of anxiety and shaky resolve too circularly. There's a glowing moment at the end of the piece where Silver lends her soaring voice to “Beautiful Dreamer,” the 1864 parlour song.
It’s not recommended.
I went to this seminar
for the wives, and they told us:
try not to cry
when you say goodbye.
It’s better if the soldiers can leave with everything
Farhad or the Secret of Being focuses on a young Afghan girl who has been dressing as a boy in order to work outside her home. This is ultimately too simplistic a treatment and veers dangerously towards some jingoistic implications. Especially suspect is the notion that the cogent, Western ideal of female emancipation could be espoused so forthrightly by a girl in Farhad’s circumstances and just twelve years old.. Still, Arielle Jacobs effectively captures the mien and mannerisms of an adolescent boy, or rather more complexly, an adolescent girl “doing” an adolescent boy. With a fresh face that lends itself to naïve contortions, she is admirably suited to the role
I want to be more than just a girl
With a scrarf wrapped round my head.
I want to walk alone in the streets
Carrying books that I hae read.
—Farhad or The Secret of Being
All three “explorations” in Inner Voices do an admirable job with limited props and set pieces. Also worth noting is that the acoustics allow each of the production’s clearly trained voice to resonate within the small space. However, each piece is marked by annoying redundancies. While the performer present their own vivid and engaging stores, the v show’s themes simply weren’t varied enough to keep an audience consistently engaged for an hour and a half.
Inner Voices, 3 one-act Muscals|
>30th Street Theater, 259 West 30th Street www.premieresnyc.org
From 11/11/12; opening 11/18/12; closing 12/02/12.
Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 3pm
Tickets are $25-30.
Running Time 90 minutes, no intermission
Set and Costume Designer: Dane Laffrey
Lighting Designer: Jenn Schriever
Sound Design: Sean Hagerty
Production Stage Manager: Robert Bennett
Assistant Stage Manager Lauren Jessica Klein
Reviewed by Zoe Erwin-Longstaff
Book and lyrics by Martin Moran; music by Joseph Thalken
Directed by Jonathan Butterell
Starring Hunter Foster
Music direction by Paul Masse
Book and Lyrics by Victor Lodato; music by Polly Pen
Directed by Jack Cummings III
Starring Alexandra Silber
Music direction by Kenneth Gartman
Farhad or The Secret of Being
Book and Lyrics by Nilo Cruz; music by Jim Bauer
Directed by Saheem Ali
Starring Arielle Jacobs
Music Direction by Matt Hinkley
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