Method – or madness?
Written & directed by Daniel Gallant
Produced by Gallant
Midtown International Theatre Festival (www.midtownfestival.org)
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre,
Equity showcase (through
Review by Charles Battersby
Cynthia (Grey Garrett) and Reid (Joshua Rivedal) are college students studying theatre. When their campus is shaken by the violent death of a student, they are the only two pupils who show up for an acting class taught by Gerald (Daniel Gallant).
It turns out that Cynthia was unfortunate enough to find the body of the dead classmate and, to help cope with these events Gerald coaches Cynthia and Reid through an improv exercise, which slowly begins to parallel their own lives. There’s a lot of shop talk for theatre people as this class unfolds- those who’ve studied acting formally will certainly see shadows of actual mentors, or students in this play.
However, the drama in Gerald’s Method is less about the events of the acting class, and more about the secret motivations of the actors. Early in the play, Reid makes some inquiries into Gerald’s life as an actor, and why he went from starring in movies and Broadway shows to teaching college kids. Gerald, as it turns out, had an adventurous career as a performer before turning to academics. There was a film in Esperanto, a broken marriage, a criminal record, and a sex scandal, all of which led to the once-famous thespian teaching the Method to college kids.
It turns out that Reid has used the internet to discover many of his teacher’s secrets, and deliberately brings them up in his classwork. As Reid prods Gerald about the downfall of his career, the audience is slowly filled in on the backstory, and how it all connects to the recent death on campus.
Reid and Cynthia also have a secret that comes into play after a twist at the end of the show- which then continues on with quite a few more twists. It’s a complicated show which, much like a long form improv exercise has to be allowed to make its way to its end before it congeals.
Despite the serious subject matter, Gerald is often played with deadpan comedy by Gallant (also playwright and director). As a failed actor, Gerald serves out heaping doses of bitter sarcasm with his advice to his two students, using a wry, straight-faced delivery.
Garrett and Rivedal are both competent in their roles, but the focus of the show falls on Gallant, whose character is older, deeper, and much more interesting.
There’s almost no set at all, and very little lighting (Michel Jerome Faulkner) or sound. Costumes are present-day streetwear. The show doesn’t require any more than this, though.
The show can certainly be recommended for Gallant’s performance, although it might be a bit too esoteric for those who’ve never studied “The Craft”.
Copyright 2008 by Charles Battersby
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