REVIEWS AND ABSTRACTS
2. A TOUCH OF THE POET, dir. Margaret Booker. Intiman Theatre, Seattle, WA, September 8-26, 1981. A Review.
Seattle's Intiman Theatre Company, renowned for their performances of classical theatre, recently presented an impressive production of A Touch of the Poet. The final show of the season, it played to enthusiastic audiences and was held over by popular demand.
Outstanding performances were given by Eve Roberts as Nora and Catherine O'Connell as Sara. Ms. Roberts, well known in the Seattle professional and academic theatre community, gave a powerful and moving performance. Ms. O'Connell, who appeared in four Intiman productions during the season, portrayed an honest and tough Sara, hateful of her father's behavior and totally devoted to her mother. O'Connell and Roberts combined to create some of the finest moments in the production. A particularly effective scene occurred between them in Act 4 while mother and daughter waited for Con's return. Their obvious cross purposes brought gales of laughter from the audience, especially when Nora finally realized what Sara had been trying to tell her about her success with Simon.
Glenn Mazen, a well known Seattle actor, portrayed Con with a viciousness that was unnerving. His rabid remarks to both Nora and Sara, coupled with his consuming arrogance towards virtually everyone he must deal with, helped to create an awesome figure. However, his lack of charm and wit made him unsympathetic and rendered his attempted seduction of Deborah Harford unconvincing. Mazen was at his best, however, in the final act, when the "crazy dead look in his eyes," which Nora speaks of, was strikingly real. And his transition after the shooting of the horse was chilling.
J. V. Bradley's portrayal of Jamie Cregan was not what I expected. He played Cregan in a comical way, as if the character were a bit dim-witted. The audience seemed to enjoy this interpretation, but I thought it was out of character.
Malcomb Hillgarter created a warm, charming and witty Mickey Maloy. His scene with Nora at the start of Act 4 was one of the best moments in the production. Hillgarter conveyed the sort of Irish wit and charm that would have enhanced Mazen's portrayal of Con.
Julia Odegard managed successfully the difficult role of Deborah Harford, and William terKuile created a distastefully proper Nicholas Gadsby. Michael Santo as Patch Riley, Will Huddleston as Paddy O'Dowd, and Laurence Ballard as Dan Roche were thoroughly entertaining as rabble whom Melody supplies with liquor. Their chorus of "Modideroo" created a rare moment of warmth in the tavern.
One flaw in the production's verisimilitude was that the skillfully constructed set, designed by University of Washington professor Robert A. Dahlstrom, was just too attractive. It did not appear to be worn or weathered; on the contrary, it looked too fine and finished to be over one hundred years old. However, a spectacular effect was created by a fish-eye mirror hung over the fireplace, which provided the audience with a distorted full length view of Con as he recited Lord Byron.
The costumes, designed by Andrew Yelusich, Resident Costume Designer at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, CA, were impressive and appropriate. The only exception was Sara's Sunday dress, which was too new and rich for the current economic deprivation of the Melody family. Lovely Irish music, arranged and played by Malcomb Hillgartner on a tin whistle, contributed to the mood.
Having myself directed A Touch of the Poet, I was especially pleased to see this production at Intiman play to such enthusiastic audiences. And I am happy to report yet another professional production of O'Neill's work here in the Northwest. In February the Tacoma Actors Guild will present Desire Under the Elms, which I will report on in the Spring issue of the Newsletter.
--Deborah Kellar Pattin
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