Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cider House Rules a triumph at Book-It

A compelling tale, a stunning cast, and marvelous direction add up to some fantastic theater at Book-It, which is returning to its beginnings with a production of John Irving's The Cider House Rules, directed by Jane Jones. The Book-It script was adapted by Peter Parnell from Irving's novel, and this direction is based on the original by Tom Hulce and Jones from 1996. The current production covers part one, and part two is coming from Book-It in September.

When we call the cast "stunning" we mean it. There's not a weak performance from Bayley to Wright. Three performances stand out in particular:

  • Peter Crook as Dr. Wilbur Larch. We've been wild about Crook since we first saw him eons ago in Lonely Planet, the first production ever staged at ArtsWest. He's a commanding presence as Dr. Larch, even as his confidence in the high calling of his work is challenged, as his ether addiction escalates, and his protege bolts for greener orchards.
  • Connor Toms as Homer Wells. Toms is rapidly becoming a favorite, with super performances recently in Two Gents at Seattle Shakes and at January's 14/48 Festival. Toms displays great range as he plays Homer literally from birth--he springs fully grown from under the clinic table on which his mother is in labor--to age 20-ish when, questioning his role at St. Clouds, he bolts, for a couple of days, with Wally and Candy.
  • Terri Weagant as Melony. Weagant is an F5 tornado as the incredibly angry young woman with a thing for Homer. She absolutely owns the stage whenever she's on it, or even above it looking out her window at the orphanage. Weagant received a Wisey nomination for best actress for The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe last August at Balagan Theatre.
Props to director Jones for keeping the action on stage moving at a usually frantic pace, with astonishing choreography that has folks moving from office to clinic to sleeping quarters to train station to abandoned logging barracks to the coast all on a spartan set. The production also includes countless little moments that display marvelous thought and attention to detail, and add some levity to what becomes a pretty heavy discussion on birth, abortion, adoption, and morality and happiness.

We're coming up on the midway point in 2010. My Sweetie, the official scorer, and I have seen nearly 50 plays (counting the 28 one-acts of 14/48 individually) and The Cider House Rules ranks among the best of them. Get out to see it at Book-It through July 11, and catch part two in September.

1 comment:

Sweetie the Official Scorer said...

Adaptations are not my absolute favorite thing in the world of theater, but this is SO well done, and part of what makes this direction and cast so wonderful is that it didn't drive me up the goddam wall to listen to everyone speaking in third person narration for three hours. Rather, it was gripping, absorbing, invigorating, compelling, and occasionally lovely. Don't know how they pulled that off, but they did. Don't miss it!