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Theater Info for Maryland

Single Carrot Theatre Linus & Alora

By • Jun 20th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Linus & Alora
Single Carrot Theatre
Single Carrot Theatre, Baltimore, MD
Through July 10th
1:30 with no intermission
$20/$15 Senior, Student, Artist
Reviewed June 18th, 2011

Entering the room, unsuspecting and unaware of both the company and the production, I was immediately introduced to the feel of the show by the untraditional and extremely intimate theater space. Linus & Alora is a multimedia journey into the imagination and broken psyche of both a woman dying from cancer and her husband. The show is extremely surreal with different elements, from projection to music to dance, all taking place throughout the room often at the same time. The elements are held together through interweaving of both the characters and the theme. Audience members are likely to either love or hate this unique and avant-garde stream-of-consciousness experience.

At times, the incorporation of the various mediums served as a distraction that pulled me away from the real emotional heart of the characters. It also made me acutely aware of the fact that this was a performance and that I was part of an audience. This could be either enriching or unsettling to audiences who are used to a more traditional production. At one point in the show, Susannah Edwards (Alora) entered knee-deep into the ball pit of stuffed animals and joined the musicians on the violin. While the music was quite enjoyable and her diversity of talent was commendable, the idea that she was an actress and not a character took away from my ability to immerse myself into the soup. I knew I was watching a performance, which detracts from the ability to empathize fully with the character’s tragic story. To add to this impression, the chaotic lack of focus would at times leave me confused as to where to direct my attention.

Beneath the layers, the show was filled with a lot of things I would and did like, but not as part of this giant, uncomfortable gumbo. The music was performed by only three onstage players; however, the music never seemed dimensionless. They juggled between guitar, drums, jaw harp, clarinet, several other instruments, and prerecorded clips with ease.

Susannah Edwards’ performance as Alora was effectively contained in this production that was larger than cake. The rest of the cast was appropriately over-the-top. Although this sometimes came across as overacting, it was probably a purposeful choice to make a statement about the nature of imagination. Nathan A. Cooper (Linus) was a good example of this and, for him, it served as interesting contrast to his monologue in which he found a moment to show the “real” side of the character and the excellent use of technique by the actor. Three actors that represented the world of imagination were Kaveh Haerian (Neal), Nathan Fulton (Owen), and Mike Zemarel (Arthur). They served as great comedic relief with their well-rehearsed physical comedy bits. In such demanding roles, these actors were able to convey thematic messages through comedy. The other, supporting actors were a constant presence in the room, and all of them seemed to do a solid job of representing the vision of the production.

An issue, though, was the blocking and the space. At times, the performers were blocked so close to the audience that it was uncomfortable. At other times, it was hard to see performers.

The use of the lighting really added to the surreal nature of the production and was appropriate for bringing the small space to light. The lighting did not, however, help me decide where to focus, though this may have been intentional. While the costumes were often intricate and detailed, I was unsure of the actual thematic reasoning behind the choices besides shock value. The minimalist set added to the overall feeling of existing somewhere between reality and imagination.

Director’s Note

This production has stretched Single Carrot in what we love to do: uniting artists to see what we come up with. Linus & Alora is the most broadly collaborative production in Single Carrot’s history. We have worked with over 25 artists to make this play happen. From filmmakers to musicians, we have brought theatre and non-theatre artists together to bring you a production that is sure to be stimulating to your sense and is as distinctive as the artists involved.

Just as a song in the play says, “it takes a village to package and prepare worm food,” this is the way we must live our life. Surrounded by many people who will guide, push, comfort, and laugh with you – this trek will not be made alone. It is only during our last breath when we face the true meaning of solitude… But until then, let’s join together with those who we have – our family, both real and imaginary – and take part in the stuff that binds us together: The preparation for what will inevitably follow – The deep need to ensure that something will live beyond us, that we will not disappear, but live on through the minds of others. This is why we make art, those things that make the end less finite – let’s make those together and keep making them until the pillow we lay our head on is so soft, we won’t even feel it against our ear.

Cast

  • Alora: Susannah Edwards
  • Linus: Nathan A. Cooper
  • Neal: Kaveh Haerian
  • Owen: Nathan Fulton
  • Arthur: Mike Zemarel
  • Sam/Sunshine: Paul Wissman
  • Samantha/Noodle: Jessica Garrett
  • Cuban Woman: Melissa Wimbish

Production Team

  • Director: Genevieve de Mahy
  • Stage Manager: Steven Krigel
  • Assistant Stage Manager: James Miller
  • Dramaturg: Whitney Eggers
  • Set Design: Eric Lott
  • Lighting Design: Lesley Boeckman, Patience Haskell, & Jennifer Reiser
  • Costume Design: Chelsey Shuler
  • Props Design: Ally Cribbs
  • Choreography: Genevieve de Mahy & David Kellam
  • Board Operator: Steven Krigel
  • Video Technician: Chris Ashworth
  • Vocal Coach: Melissa Wimbish
  • Production Manager: Nathan Fulton
  • Program Design: Sid Flax
  • Scenic Painter: Sarah Hickey

Film Design

  • Chris Hartlove (Sandwiches)
  • Diana Peralta (Ballons, Floating Woman)
  • Justin Salvia (Stars, City, Etc.)
  • Sandylee Triolo (Medical & Western imagery, etc.)
  • Jane Westwick (Stop Motion and Painted Animation, Little Alora)

Musicians

Music created collaboratively by musicians and singers

  • Clarinet, Percussion: Madeline de Mahy
  • Banjo, Guitar: Paul Diem
  • Percussion, Mandolin: Jeremy Durkin

Disclaimer: Single Carrot Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, and began working with a marketing company out of Baltimore. During his time in school he would frequently perform his staple portrayal for the D.C. based Stroyka Theatre; all the while juggling his alternative position as filmographer.

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