Keegan Theatre The GraduateBy Mark Lee Adams • May 23rd, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Keegan Theatre has taken on a Movie Classic turned into a play, The Graduate. Not an easy task. The mindset of the American Consciousness regarding this film has many landmark lines. The line spoken by Mr. Robinson, “I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics.” Or the line, “You want me to call the cops? You want me to call the cops? I’ll call the cops!” and the line spoken by the lead character as he’s banging on the balcony window.
The Director, Kathleen Akerley had her own ideas about this story and I always appreciate seeing a director’s vision. This play seemed to have an anti-vision. Her vision seemed to be trying to not be like the movie by being just like the movie. Covering up the scripted word, “…Plastics!” just for the sake of putting her signature to it didn’t make any sense to me, especially with the audience expecting to hear it. Also, instead of giving the character of Mrs. Robinson the dignity of knowing, even in a drunken state, how to tease and entice a young man with nudity without shoving it down his and the audiences throat is a bit much. I mean, wouldn’t Benjamin have left the room? If not, wouldn’t he have gone on the offensive right then and there? Then having the myriad of scene changes made by the actors of the company and having them converse, in semi-audible character, as they performed the changes made no sense and told me nothing new of the story or the development of the characters, except to confuse. With a weak script, the confusion was compounded.
The only success of this show, in part, is in the acting. Sheri S. Herren plays Mrs. Robinson to perfection, even if she was asked to do more of an overindulgent and unnecessary nude scene than was needed. Her connection with her character was excellent and compelling. Colin Smith plays Mr. Robinson with a down to earth realness. His scene with Benjamin, played by Tom Carman, concerning the affair with Mrs. Robinson was touching and at times scary and funny at the same time. Carman plays Benjamin almost too young. He seemed so out of place in the bar scene and I never quite believed he fell in love with Elaine, played by Jenny Donovan. But all in all, especially when acting with Ms. Herren, his performance is ok. Jenny Donovan plays Elaine Robinson stronger than her characters naivety needs to be. Her intensity was good but at times she seemed anchored down by her own strength. Playing Benjamin’s parents are: Slice Hicks as Ben’s dad, who has a nice scene with Benjamin while eating nuts or sun-flower seeds and Jane Petkofsky playing Ben’s mother plays with a candid realism without any of the over the top craziness we may be familiar with. The rest of the cast in this production, many playing multiple roles, were just there, like a tree or a cat.
The set was designed by George Lucas. A big task with so many scene changes, but done very well. Aside from the mixture of paisley with underwater amoebas painted all over, the show was pleasing to the eye and gave us the flavor of the time period with his color choices.
Neil McFadden designed the sound and kept the play in line with the movie.
Costumes left a little to be desired but not to the point of misrepresentation. The color choices were bold in some and subdued and drab in others. More could’ve been done with the costumes by Kelly Peacock.
Disclaimer: Keegan Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5035.
Mark Lee Adams has been involved in theatre for over 40 years in the local Washington DC Metro area as well as NYC and London England. Mark has performed at the Dramatist Guild Theatre on Broadway, at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre Off-Broadway. His credits include work in many local theatres as well: The Folger Theatre Group, Arena Stage, New Playwrights Theatre, 7th Street Players, The Keegan Theatre, The American Century Theatre, The Journeyman Theatre, ASTA Theatre, The Hayloft Dinner Theatre (Associate Producer), The Lazy Susan Theatre, Discovery Channels, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (Frankenstein) with Donald Sutherland. London, England credits include work at: The Duke of York Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, The Questors Theatre, The British Embassy Players. Mark is a graduate of The Drama Studio, London, England. Mark is also a narrator of audio books for Gildan Audio: “True North”, by Bill George; “Never Give Up”, by Tedy Bruschi and “Five Minds for the Future”, by Howard Gardner among them. Mark currently teaches Advanced Acting at The Little Theatre of Alexandria and still performs locally in many theatres.