Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Annex scores with two nice shows

With all of the theater my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I see it's pretty amazing that we had never taken in a show at Annex Theatre--until this month, when we saw two in six days. Both were outstanding.

L-R Jennifer Pratt as Annique, Jade
Justad as Veronica, and Daniel Chris-
tensen as Micky in Scotto Moore's play
When I Come to My Senses I'm Alive.
Photo: Ben Laurance.
Back on May 14 we saw When I Come to My Senses I'm Alive by local playwright Scotto Moore and directed by Kristina Sutherland. Expectations were high. Moore penned two of our favorites of the January 14/48 festival, and the cast included a couple of Balagan friends, LaChrista Borgers and Curtis Eastwood.

Senses did not disappoint. Moore's sci-fi script explored the notion of human emotions that can be downloaded and enjoyed vicariously, and a super malevolent intelligence that evolved when the system got hacked. Jennifer Pratt was excellent as Annique Farrar, the inventor of the emotion-sharing helmets, Eastwood was delightful as the sleazy TV network exec who wanted to steal it all, and Jade Justad was cool and calculating as the dangerous Veronica Bilious, spy, hacker, and hit-woman extraordinaire.

Kudos to set designer David Gignac, who came up with a big swinging wall that made it easy to switch between Annique's basement, where all the computing takes place, and the TV network offices and other scenes of the show.

We're really enjoying Moore's plays and hope to see more of them.

A few days later we took in José Amador's one-man show El Hijo Prodigo (The Prodigal Son), directed by Mark Fullerton. It's the tale of a man's trip back to his native Puerto Rico after more than two decades off the island. Amador is a marvelous story teller, and his narrative is at turns funny, haunting, gut-wrenching, and touching. Weisenheimer got especially weepy around the end, partly because Pops Weisenheimer passed away in the same year as Padre Amador.

José's performance was a bit on the spotty side, as there were a couple of occasions when he had to struggle to recall his lines. The performance we saw was the last of a run of several weeks, and besides, mastering what is, in effect, a 90-minute monologue must be one heck of a challenge. The story is entirely compelling. We'd love to see Amador continue to refine El Hijo Prodigo, and perhaps add other actors. We imagine it would be fun to meet some of the characters he told us about.

Sadly, both shows have closed. If you missed them, you missed some good stuff. And kudos to Annex for producing almost exclusively new works.

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