For those of you who might be wondering how the play I'm in has gone, I've re-posted the review that came out today in one of our local papers, the Comox Valley Record (British Columbia, Canada).
Comox Valley Record
Reviewer says actor slips into his role like a hand into a glove
By Paula Wild - Comox Valley Record
Published: October 07, 2008 3:00 PM
Night of Shooting Stars possesses a near perfect blend of hard-boiled detective angst, gritty film noir scenes and surprising moments of humour.
Courtenay Little Theatre’s fall production opened at the Sid Williams Theatre last Thursday for a six-show run, and continues with shows this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, Night of Shooting Stars is told through the eyes of aging private detective Nat Williams.
Back in the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, he offered his hanky to a crying woman in a restaurant and his life was forever changed. The story is one of secrets, spies and intrigue. The plot is fraught with numerous twists and turns. Scenes shift between the present, with Old Nat (Jeff Hudelson) telling his story to the crying woman’s daughter (Vickie Weiss), and the past, acted out by a younger Nat (Robert Conway) and Valerie (Shannon Phoenix), the damsel in distress.
The link between memory and present is forged by the haunting sounds of a saxophone played by Nick McGowan. As Old Nat, Hudelson is on the skuzzy side of disheveled. He, and his room, are unkempt, lonely remnants of days gone by. This actor slips into his role like a hand into a glove. His body language and tone of voice create images as well as the words.
Although only on stage in a supporting role, Selina Duncan’s over-the-top portrayal of Chinese restaurant owner Mary is excellent. On opening night, the scene where Mary chases a Mountie out of her restaurant caused the audience to break into spontaneous applause.
Conway does a first-class job of portraying the classic gumshoe. He’s cynical on the outside and soft as butter inside. Conway has got the whole act, including droll comments and cigarette sticking out of the side of the mouth, down pat.
The Mob, seven teens outfitted in dark trench coats and fedoras, deftly shift props between scenes, allowing transitions to take place in a nearly seamless fashion.
What I liked in this play: the rhythm and cadence of Armstrong’s poem-like words spoken by Hudelson; the dark set and effective use of few props; the short train/street vignettes that aptly capture time and place and that wonderful saxophone.
What didn’t work in this play: the synchronized movements of the Mob and a noticeable blankout by one of the actors, followed by a remarkably strong recovery. A few scenes need some tightening and some lighting cues were slightly off the mark. But quirks like these are part and parcel of live theatre and are often overcome once opening night jitters have passed.