Daily Archives: November 22, 2011
Review of “Ann”
By Lazlo Collins
The first full glimpse of Holland Taylor as Ann Richards is a “Mamma Rose” show stopping entrance tableau. Poised with al tweedy suit and ready for action, she stands defiant, taking the audience on a one woman tour-de force journey that is both educational and inspiring.
Knowing very little about the power house politician Ann Richards, I approached the play with a willingness to learn a little something about the woman behind the plain talkin’, rough n’ ready gal from Texas. I was not disappointed.
Ann Richards was most known for her real life role as chairwoman at the 1992 Democratic Convention; (Delivering an historic rousing speech to the masses) while serving as Governor of Texas from 1990 to 1995, only to be defeated by George W Bush for her reelection.
The play takes us on a journey of her story as told by Richards herself. She uses a commencement speech to start. We then glimpse Ann in her office, playfully talking with her unseen staff, and sparring with the likes of President Bill Clinton on the phone. The play moves with ease as Ann relays important information about family, friends and life. She moves constantly from place to place, as a vibrant illustration of her “If you rest, you rust”, philosophy.
As an actress, Holland Taylor’s credits are not surprising. Most familiar to the mass audiences would be her recent turn as the mother on “Two and a Half Men”. One of my personal favorites is her delightfully upbeat Harvard Law School professor in “Legally Blond”.
Ms. Taylor conceived and wrote “Ann”. Her labor of love is evident in her tough, but tender portrayal of an often out-spoken woman. The recollection of her parents is often a touch stone to figure out how she arrived at wherever she may be. Ms. Taylor’s portrayal draws you in to really listen, whether she is confidently speaking out her pro-choice viewpoints, or reminiscing about her tough mother or inspiring, radiant father.
Holland Taylor completely transforms herself into Ann Richards. Ms. Taylor has done her homework for the role. She has met with the woman she is portraying, and gives us a tender look at the woman who moved through adversity, to come to a place that surprised even Ann herself. Her detailed study of Ann Richard’s look and mannerism should not go unnoticed. Holland Taylor’s acting is superb. She keeps us laughing and interested throughout the play, only to bring us to a tearful goodbye, as Ann talks about the cancer that ultimately took from the spotlight in 2006.
Through Ms. Taylor’s kind portrayal, you ultimately get the sense of what Ann Richards strived for in her life. And that is to have a life, by saying what you mean and moving on from difficulties with bold brash LUMINOUS style.
Go get lost for an hour or so with Ann Richards appearing the Bank of America Theater through Dec. 4. Ann Richards would be glad you did!
By Devlyn Camp
Polarity Ensemble Theatre is currently presenting the Chicago premiere of Peer Gynt in its new adaptation by Robert Bly. Cutting the original five acts down to two, this interpretation still follows an imaginative young man who encounters surreal problems. The set by Heath Hays, in a large black box space, has an overhead boardwalk that spans across the space. It’s beautiful when the lights hit the walk and dramatic slats of light run across the faces of characters below. The production flaunts dozens of first-rate period costumes by Rachel Lambert for over fifty characters, including an impressive puppet troll toddler (designed by Angela M. Campos).
Peer’s delusions of grandeur, and then eventual satisfaction of delusions, lead to some overacting across the board. In many scenes, nearly every actor is working too hard at the heightened, poetic language and any sense of realistic character is gone. Fortunately, some of this can be overlooked seeing that Peer becomes a prince of the trolls and finds himself in bizarre, mythological situations. Young Peer, once wishing that everyone would bow to him, learns the standard lesson be careful what you wish for. The play is interesting, especially in an unfamiliar translation, and still holds the same morals of the Henrik Ibsen classic. Though with every scene waiting between lengthy monologues by Peer, it is difficult to keep interest in the tale. Perhaps they should have incorporated more creative puppetry. That puppet troll toddler really had me dazzled.
Your thoughts on the production? Was the production value better, or the performance? Comment below and let’s talk about it…
Polarity Ensemble Theatre
Through December 18th
Tickets $10-20, available at dcatheater.org
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