Review Theatre

Longhouse – Feb 15, 2006

If there was a word worse than ‘disastrous’, that’d be what I’d use to describe Longhouse. Everything was just wrong! Nothing went well in the show tonight. I really don’t know if I should give them a break cos it IS their first show and I, of all people, should know that opening shows are always screwed. Anyway, I have to start my bitching somewhere…

It wasn’t very impressive. Interesting concept of using unsymmetrical gridlines to make up doors, windows, mirrors and leaving quite a bit to the audience’s imagination. Most of the ‘furniture’ was made up of old newspaper stacks which was intriguing at first but not fully made use of. It would have been even more expressive and meaningful if the newspapers actually made up part of the journey of the characters and not just some other bed or table or sofa… The bonsai thing was too ridiculous. If more branches poked through the empty spaces in the grid during the big sister’s rather dreary monologue about the character in her book, it would have been more symbolic. It is currently very flat and is simply a backdrop.. A dropdown back drop might have worked for this purpose. And if the upstage part fo the grid was smaller, I feel the contrast would have been better when the characters walk from downstage up, where the mother’s room was supposed to be relatively.

This is my biggest qualm of the entire play. I hate, absolutely HATE, plays with many blackouts. It spoils the rythmn of the whole piece, breaks the audience’s concentration and really cuts the flow of the story. And the lights are so unimaginative, no fun, no creativity at all. I can do just as well. What’s with the wash!? I feel as if I’m watching a Brechtian wannabe’s design work. This is definitely Dorothy’s worst work. Is Toy too poor to get coloured gels and moving lights and gobos???? At least some COLOUR would be appreciated. Something other than yellow and orange.

I think the problem is with the operator. I don’t know if this op is new or what but the cue points were wrong, there was no feel for the play, the music didn’t build up correctly. It was either too fast or too slow. It was as if the op was either sleeping or retarded or has bad brain-hand coordination.

Lines were fluffed and everyone overacted. Performance was over the top. Too much expression, too much angst too much everything. A little more subtlety would have greatly improved the overall enjoyability of the play. And I couldn’t catch 70% of what they were saying, especially the fighting parts.

I’ve come to this conclusion that Nelson’s best for acting. That’s probably about it. And stage acting to be more specific. The play was too loose. The momentum builds up and drops suddenly, leaving the audience hanging in mid-air gasping for breath. Not always a bad thing, but not for this kind of play with a moving-forward timeline.

Some funny parts but that’s all. Boon Teck tries to be sarcastic and ‘suan’ the government and politics but it turns out too contrived, it’s like having constipation and trying too hard to shit. When you actually do shit it out, you bleed as well. He’s not a fantastic writer as it is and this script is not helping his reputation. He should just stick to set designing.