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Review: Spoon River Anthology

By • Jan 13th, 2006 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of American Century Theater’s production of Spoon River Anthology [MP3 4.5MB 4:56].

Laura: And we’re talking about the American Century Theater‘s production of .

Mike: Spoon River Anthology is a play that was adapted by Charles Aidman based on the poems of Edgar Lee Masters. Masters wrote a book of poetry in 1915 based on the town of Spoon River, Illinois. I don’t know if that was a real town or not, but there were a lot of people talked about. And this is a book of poetry and it is the story, stories that the people in the graveyard were telling about their lives. How they ended up in the graveyard. Their thoughts now that they’re there and the thoughts they had now that they’re not there. The actors did really well with this. There were eight different actors; four male and four female. They performed about 70 different parts between the eight of them. They changed their parts just by staying on stage. They would maybe lay down or go to sleep. ‘Course if they were dead maybe they weren’t sleeping they were beinng dead. They would go off stage sometimes, but not a lot.

Laura: Yes, they were onstage for almost the whole performance. When the lights would come up on their character sometimes they would be an older person, a younger person, a child. Sometimes they would have a different accent, but they stayed in character really well.

Mike: They stayed in character really well. I didn’t hear any flubbed lines. The stage was rather large and to have eight people on a large stage you’d think they would kind of disappear. But because the audience was really close to the stage and the audience went around the edges of the stage, you could see everything and the people were right there. So they didn’t really ever disappear. That was nice.

Laura: There was some singing. They all had good voices. The soloists had good voices for their parts. There was a guitar that a couple of the actors used at some points that was really good.

Mike: The costumes were interesting. The back of their shirts or the jackets they were wearing had two pieces of cloth coming off, kind of like wings. A few times they were angels. They also used these as their props. There was one scene where most of the people had babies. So the men took the cloth around their back and put it up in their arms like a baby. All of a sudden it was a baby, and you saw it as that. It was an effective use of costuming. Some of the characters had no shoes. Some had one shoe and barefoot on the other foot. Very flexible costuming.

Laura: The lighting was also very good. They had white lighting, but then at other times it would come up on a couple of the characters and it was a blue background or blue lighting, also purples. That seemed to bring out the emotions of the actor.

Mike: The lighting definitely complimented the actors. They did really well with pulling that all together. There were sound effects as well that were prety subtle at times. There was some music that played that helped set the scenes. They didn’t all necessarily sing to, but was just as background music. That was kind of nice. The lighting and the background, the stage and the actors; everything worked together. I can’t think of anything that I would have changed if I were working this show.

Laura: It was a really good show. I liked how they interacted. They seemed comfortable working with each other.

Mike: The show is advertised as being for children of all ages as well as adults of course. I don’t know though. I think it would be better for high school kids, maybe 9th grade and up. There are some very mature issues going on and I don’t think young children would understand it or necessarily want to be exposed to it at that point in their lives. So probably high school or older.

Laura: I would agree. It also brings up topics of discussion for the car ride home.

Mike: Definitely some good points of discussion. Both historical, what did it mean when they said whatever. There were some adult themes, prostitution and things like that. A lot of marital issues that happen. I would say 9th grade or up should be okay with it. And just so you do know, American Century Theater has a policy that for every paying ticket you can bring a child and get a free admission. So if you have a couple kids it makes it easier to go to the theater with your kids.

Laura: Absolutely. Spoon River Anthology is playing through the 28th in Arlington, Virginia at the American Century Theater. And now, on with the show.

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