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Sunday, December 9, 2018
"It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" @ Artists Rep
Artists Rep's 2013 production of "X-Mas Unplugged" still holds the distinction of being the most unapologetically dark holiday offering I have ever seen. Santa is still nursing a grudge that he was beaten to death at the end of "The Reason for the Season," the first of a double-bill of virulently anti-Christmas One-Acts. That play absolutely crushed PCS' now-perennial "A Christmas Carol" send-up, "Twist Your Dickens" in terms of emphatic humbuggery. So, it is very surprising indeed that I can crown Artist's Rep's current yuletide offering, "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" as the most unabashedly festive production I have seen this year. In fact, it is like an oasis in a desert of Theatrical Grinchiness. This is a Theatre Season which includes the similarly radio-themed "A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol", a pretty drastic departure from Broadway Rose's annual Christmas-themed revues, both in terms of a somewhat depressing plot, and precious little singing, it was the only one of their productions to fail to get me in the mood for the holidays. Even Artist Rep itself can't emerge unscathed from allegations of dampening the Holiday Spirit, with the mortality-tackling "Everybody" playing on their home-stage. (This production plays at Northwest Children's Theater.) I had a post-show chat with Artists Rep's Press Person, who sensed I was a little unnerved by "Everybody," and she worried that George Bailey's contemplation of suicide wouldn't provide the "uplift" I admitted to craving in my review. I giggled a little, because no one is going to mistake "It's a Wonderful Life" for "Whose Life is It Anyway?" This is a thoroughly pleasant adaptation of the Capra classic, and in this climate, I'd run to it if I were you.
Monday, December 3, 2018
"Everybody" at Artist's Rep
The gimmick at the heart of "Everybody" is worth attending. Each night, the roles are chosen by lottery, so the actors must memorize the entire script. I am sure this is no easy task, and I am equally confident that the show would reward repeat viewings, as I found myself imagining how a certain actor would play "Everybody" when they shared a scene with the actor who was playing him. That said, "Everybody" might not be for everybody. It evokes intense and varied emotions, which of course, is a mark of good theatre, but you have to be in the right frame of mind. It tackles the questions at the heart of our very existence, and one could be excused for desiring lighter fare at this time of year, such as Artist's Rep's next production, "It's A Wonderful Life Radio Play." In fact, it would not surprise me if the two shows split audiences into camps. I have the privilege of seeing both, and while "Everybody" ends on a note of profound truth, and perhaps even hopefulness, I crave the promised uplift of their next show.
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