Review: “Rebecca” by Carmel Community Players

I didn’t catch the name of the Carmel Community Players board member giving the curtain talk for “Rebecca” at the Carmel Community Playhouse last night, but I love that she acknowledged the presence of her mother-in-law’s Geist Book Club in her welcome message to the audience.  This is such a perfect show for a book group! Or anyone that loves to read.  I have never read Daphne duMaurier’s novel but I loved the feeling of “literature brought to life with respect and pleasure” that this show (also written by her) gave me.

I also loved that this is a gothic drama in the traditional sense. No vampires, no politics, no breaking into song…”just” intrigue and angst and servants, set in an English mansion in 1938.

And no poking fun at the characters behind their backs.  There is humor in this show and the exaggerations of melodrama, but it is not a satire or a spoof.  The characters are honestly themselves, and you laugh and gasp and sigh along with them.

I don’t think the characters and I were the only ones surprised by the ending, either.  Someone near me in the audience murmured, “Ah, a twist!”

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CD Review: “Levels of Difficulty” by Paul Strickland

I love comic storyteller Paul Strickland’s new CD, “Levels of Difficulty.” It was released earlier this week.

Paul Strickland is from Tennessee but you may remember him from the 2010 and 2011 Indy Fringe Festivals here in Indianapolis, Indiana. I enjoyed his 2010 storytelling show, “A Brighter Shade of Blue,” but his 2011 storytelling show, “Any Title That Works,” bowled me over.  I saw it twice.

His “Levels of Difficulty” CD has a more stand-up feel than either of his Fringe shows, which makes sense.  According to Chad Riden on NashvilleStandup.com, Paul’s CD was recorded live at the Comedy Caravan in Louisville, Kentucky.  However, just as Paul’s stand-up skills informed his storytelling shows, his story crafting skills inform his stand-up.  Both are treats.

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Review: “A Steady Rain” – Acting Up Productions

Professional theatre company Acting Up Productions was only able to offer five performances of “A Steady Rain” by Keith Huff.  I am very glad I got to witness one of them!

“Witness” is the most precise word for the experience.  In this piece, the theatrical fourth wall is down.  Two Chicago police officers try to explain to the audience and to themselves how their life-long friendship and partnership fell apart.

Their efforts are heartbreaking on many levels, and not just because the body count is high.  Being in the audience is not so much about judging them as about recognizing and respecting their complex humanity, sharing their sorrow, and knowing that, as the characters themselves acknowledge at different points in their storytelling, “there but for the grace of God” go you and I.

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