Dominion Stage The House of Blue LeavesBy Laura & Mike Clark • May 27th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of the Dominion Stage production of The House of Blue Leaves [MP3 5:29 2.5MB].
Gunston Theater, Arlington, VA
$17; $15 Seniors and Students
Through June 8th
Laura: This is the ShowBizRadio review of The House of Blue Leaves, performed by Dominion Stage at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia. we saw the performance on Sunday afternoon, May 25th, 2008.
Mike: The House of Blue Leaves is a play by John Guare. Set in Sunnyside Queens in 1965 on a day when Pope Paul VI visited New York City. The comedy features nuns, a political bombing, a GI headed for Vietnam, a zookeeper who dreams of making it big as a Hollywood songwriter and his wife Bananas, a schizophrenic destine for an institution that provides the play’s title.
Laura: This show was described as a dark comedy. However, I felt it was dark, but it was not a comedy. There were some funny lines and a whole lot of chaos.
Mike: I did not have a good time at this how. I found the first act to be quite boring and it did not engage me. The second act was bordering on farce with all the oddball characters that showed up, but I did not really care about any of them. Other than an interesting monologue by Ronnie in the front half of the second act, I do not think there was that many interesting things happening with the show.
Laura: Ronnie Shaughnessy was an AWOL soldier who was using his parent’s house as a hideaway, was played by Kevin Eaton. His opening monologue in the second act was very forceful and explained a lot about the first act. It kind of brought it together.
Mike: I think the highlight of the show was the monologue from Ronnie. I think he did a great job with it. At one point in his monologue he went into his room to get something. It seemed like he was in there for a long time. He came back out with the altar boy outfit that he put on later in the show. The monologue had a very smooth feel to it. He had a lot of emotion and you were not quite sure where he was going. I think it was pretty effective. I liked that he explained what was going on. You were a little scared by him. I think all those emotions: the lovable kid who wanted to be Huckleberry Finn, all the way up through the scary want-to-be assassin. All of those emotions and all of those parts of the character came out through Eaton’s performance.
Laura: Artie Shaughnessy, the would be songwriter currently zookeeper, was played by Brian Turley. I will say that although I did not like his character, he did have a lot of emotion on his face and he reacted well to his wife, Bananas Shaughnessy. They had some good scenes together. Especially at the end when a lot of his anger and frustration came out.
Mike: The Bananas character played by Lois S. Walsh was a schizophrenic. I got that she was a little nutty, but she seemed to be the sanest character in the whole show. I felt very sympathetic towards her, but the frequent use of breaking the fourth wall to talk with out to the audience got distracting. I could not tell when she was talking to the audience and when she was talking to herself in her head. It was not an effective device.
Laura: Artie’s girlfriend, Bunny Flingus, was played by Karen Lange. She had a tough role. She was trying to get rid of Bananas, wanted to marry Artie. At the same time he wanted to go to Hollywood to help him with his career, but she played it more like her way or the highway. It was an interesting role.
Mike: I will say all of these characters were deluded. At first I was thinking it was only Artie was, but as the show progressed, you realized that all of the people were deluded in one way or the other. Even the characters in the second act, the nuns, Billy Einhorn the director, as well as the starlet Corinna Stroller, even they were deluded in various forms of what was happening in their lives. I will say a ll of these people you could feel sad for, but with having so much going on at once, it did not feel real. For example, something happens in the second act that affects a lot of people and the reactions that were happening just did not feel real after that event.
Laura: The set for The House of Blue Leaves was very well done. It did look very 1965. The set Designers were David M. Moretti and Matthew Randall.
Mike: I liked the sound effects. There was a window at the far upper edge of the stage that characters would come through occasionally. Whenever that window was open street noise would come in and then when the window closed the noises stopped. That was nice. The sounds were very appropriate. The sound designer was Ben Allen.
Laura: The House of Blue Leaves was two hours and ten minutes with one intermission. It is playing through Sunday, June 8th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and Sunday matinees at 2 pm at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia.
Mike: If you’ve seen the show, we’d like to hear your comments. Leave a comment here at ShowBizRadio.net. We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list. Stay informed with what’s happening with community theater in the DC region.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
- Artie Shaughnessy: Brian Turley
- Ronnie Shaughnessy: Kevin Eaton
- Bunny Flingus: Karen Lange
- Bananas Shaughnessy: Lois S. Walsh
- Corrinna Stroller: Elisabeth Hess
- Head Nun: Celeste Campbell
- Second Nun: Gayle Grimes
- Little Nun: Meghan Hindmarch
- MP: Richard Isaacs
- Man in White: Steve Lada
- Billy Einhorn: Bob Cohen
- Producer: Theresa Bender
- Director: Brian Randall
- Stage Manager: Laura Moody
- Production Manager: Joan A. S. Lada
- Technical Director: David M. Moretti
- Set Designer: David M. Moretti, Matthew Randall
- Paint Designer: Theresa Bender, David M. Moretti
- Master Carpenter: Kevin Eaton
- Lighting Designer and Board Operation: Nick Brown
- Sound Designer and Board Operation: Ben Allen
- Set Dressing: Mike Smith
- Stage Combat/Fight Scenes: Steve Lada
- Costume Designer/Coordination: Judy Whelihan
- Properties: Julia Cowell, Alyssa Jacobsen, Asher Miller
- Set Construction: Theresa Bender, Claudia Daniels, Kevin Eaton, Steve Lada, Hector Lorenzini, Marty Sullivan
- Set Painting: Theresa Bender, Celeste Campbell, Meghan Hindbarch, Hector Lorenzini, William D. Parker, Mike Smith, Brian Turley
- Auditions: Ken Clayton, Richard Isaacs
- Marketing Campaign: David M. Moretti
- Marketing/Show Photographer: Jarret Baker
- Marketing Multimedia: Nick Brown
- Logo and Program design: Laury Sendek
- Front of House: Dominion Stage Board
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2299.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.