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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Rep Stage Travels With My Aunt

By • Sep 6th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Travels With My Aunt, by Graham Greene
Rep Stage
Howard Community College – Studio Theatre, Columbia, MD
Through September 12
2:40 with one intermission
$18-$26/$12 HCC Students
Reviewed August 29, 2010

Travels With My Aunt is a play by Graham Greene with stage adaptation by Giles Havergal. Henry Pulling is a 55 year old retired banker looking to find himself at his mother’s funeral he meets his 70 year old Aunt and the two of them strike up a friendship that takes them around the world. Aunt Augustus has led a colorful life and Henry Pulling isn’t sure he is always up to the chase.

Travels With My Aunt was an interesting, fast paced show which was sometimes hard to keep up. Four men played a total of almost 30 different characters. Having just seen Greater Tuna, I was expecting each actor to make lots of costume changes, and the overall feel of the show to be more like slapstick. Instead it was fairly sophisticated, with each actor showing their roles through the nuance of accent, mannerisms, and dialect without major costume changes.

Although all four men played the lead character of Henry Pulling at different times, Bill Largess was the primary Henry throughout the performance. Largess played Pulling with the calm humor and demeanor of the British. The only time he seemed to become ruffled was when he played a wolf. Then he played his part with enthusiasm and believability.

Nigel Reed had the distinction of playing the ever lovable Aunt Augustus. Reed carried the walk and mannerisms so smoothly you forgot you were looking at a man even though he wore a suit the entire evening. His sincerity and feeling were quite touching.

Finishing out the quartet were Lawrence Redmond and Michael Russotto. Redmond’s two most notable characters were Wordsworth, Aunt Augustus’ butler/lover and Mr. Visconti, the real lover of Aunt Augustus. Redmond managed to play each role with enough differences that they were seen as two separate people. Redmond played one with a lot of emotion and grand gestures, while the other was smooth and suave. Michael Russotto played both James O’Toole, an FBI Agent from Philadelphia and his daughter Tooley. Again Russotto had to change mannerisms, accent, speech and pitch to make himself believed by the audience. He did it and did it well.

Besides all the different characters another aspect that really made the show stand out were the scene changes and lighting effects. Every man had his task and at the end of the scene carried something on or off with the choreography of a ballet. The lighting (designed by Dan Covey) was excellent, with many subtle hues and imaginative transitions to set the different moods and tones of the show. James Fouchard’s set was gorgeous, made up of circles, lines, and multiple levels and lots of depth to make for an interesting place to travel.

Director’s Notes

In Search of “Lifegivers”
“As I went upstairs to bed I felt myself to be a ghost returning home, transparent as water…I was almost surprised to see that my image was visible in the glass.”-Henry Pulling in the novel, Travels with My Aunt

How does one keep from fading to invisible when existence is painted in shades of monotonous grey routine, in a world that discards your life and work in its reach for the newest shiny object? Maybe we borrow the colors from other people’s memories of us. Perhaps we assume the substance when a storyteller makes us a character in their act of creation. If fortune finds us, we might come under a “Lifegiver’s” wing, and learn to color our own existence through the prism of their brilliant light. The act of living can be a spontaneous art form in the company of these bewitching mediums. The power of their narrative and endlessly evocative opinions challenges us-makes us run to keep up with them. Life never feels second hand in their extemporary existence. A lovely parallel occurs in the theatre when the transformative gift of the actor and the strength of the writer’s storytelling work a kindred magic, and we surrender to their seductive charms.

However beguiling the peripatetic Aunt Augustus’s presence may be, there’s no denying she operates in an amoral arena of chicanery and intrigue, even while simultaneously posing questions of real moral weight to her repressed nephew. One can almoszt see Graham Greene winking at us as we try to balance the vitality of Aunt Augusta’s illegal hi-jinks against lifeless respectability of Henry’s circumspect retirement. But just as Aunt Augusta initiates Henry into the glamour and passion of life, so must she reveal to him the existence of life’s shadows and risks. Then again, anything made visible with imaginative color and substance will most likely cast a shadow if it is capable of reflecting joy.

-Kasi Campbell

Cast

  • Henry Pulling, Italian Girl, Wolf: Bill Largess
  • Henry Pulling, Richard Pulling, Taxi Driver, Wordworth, Sargeant Sparrow’s Colleague, Hatty, Uncle Jo, Colonel Hakim, Misss Patterson, Spanish Palm Reader, Bodyguard, Mr. Visconti: Lawrence Redmond
  • Henry Pulling, Aunt Augustus, Policeman, Bartender: Nigel Reed
  • Henry pulling, Vicar, Girl in Jodhpurs, Miss Keene, Detective Sargeant Sparrow, Tooley, Frau Genersl Schmidt, Turkish Receptionist, James O’Toole, Turkish Policeman, Yolanda: Michael Russotto

Crew

  • Director: Kasi Campbell
  • Scenic Designer: James Fouchard
  • Lighting Designer: Dan Covey
  • Costume Designer: Melanie Clark
  • Sound Designer: Neil McFadden
  • Properties Designer: Liza Davies
  • Dialect Consultant: Elizabeth van den Berg
  • Producing Artistic Director: Michael Stebbins
  • Managing director: Nancy Tarr Hart
  • Founding Artistic Director: Valerie Lash
  • Production Stage Manager: Emily Carter Watson
  • Production Manager: Lisa Miion
  • Production Assistants: Kiirstn Pagan
  • Literary Manager/Dramaturg: Lisa A. Wilde
  • Communications and Group Sales Manager: Yvonne Erickson
  • Photography: Stan Barouh
  • Videographer: Tony Hoos
  • Program Cover Artwork: Barbara VanRossum
  • Carpentry: Josh Cookson, Jamie Driskill, Keilyn D. Jones, Brian Mandel
  • Paint: Marmi Blachowicz, Lian French, j. R. Fitsch, Kiirstn Pagan
  • Master Electrician: Eric Moore
  • Electrics: James Engelkeimier, Josh Jarboe

Disclaimer: Rep Stage provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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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.

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