Monthly Archive for: ‘August, 2012’

PRECIOUS LITTLE at Shotgun Players is flawed but intriguing.

PRECIOUS LITTLE by Madeleine George and directed by Marissa Wolf. Shotgun Players, The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, 510-841-6500 or www.shotgunpllayers.org.

August 18 – September 9

PRECIOUS LITTLE at Shotgun Players is flawed but intriguing.

Shotgun Players are noted for their undertakings that are often provocative but never dull. A plethora of synonyms include challenging, disturbing, exciting and often stimulating. Their present staging of Precious Little by 13P playwright Marissa Wolf is all of those with added description of being more than somewhat offensive to this reviewer. It did not have to be and if the author had utilized the benefit of a few more readings it could have been avoided.

The problem starts with the fact that she was one of 13 mid-career playwrights who founded the group Thirteen Playwrights ( www.13p.org) in 2003 who objected to “the trend of endless readings and new play development programs” that affected “the texture and ambition of new American plays” and decided to ignore that process. They put on full productions of each new play with the author as artistic director. If this play was scrutinized (subjected to?) the rigors of development the perceived flaw could have easily been avoided.

The fine cast of Zehra Berkman, Nancy Carlin and Rami Margron give superlative performances playing a total of eight parts with Carlin giving a Tony Award winning performance as the Ape.

Nancy Carlin (the Ape), Zehra Berkman (Brodie), Rami Margron (Zoo Goers); Photo by Pak Han

With an opening scene of the Ape elegantly eating a celery stick, sticking out her tongue and puckering her lips and telling us she can do so, while the Zoo Goer(s) (the multitalented Rami Margron) mouthing inane comments looks on grabs the audience’s attention.

It is the next scene where the protagonist Brodie (Zehra Berkman) a 42 year old linguist who has had artificial insemination and undergoes an amniocentesis to determine if the baby will have genetic defects is being advised of the possible problem by a neophyte interviewer (Margron) who is completely inept in the art of counseling. The scene generates laughs and is an insult to the medical profession. The fact that there is evidence of abnormal chromosomes will force a Brodie to make a life altering choice. To amplify the turmoil, sonograms of the uterus and fetus are projected on the back wall.

Thrown into the decision making is the unnecessary fact that Brodie is a lesbian and her lover (Margon again) encourages an abortion. Brodie’s turmoil is compounded when she learns the fetus is a girl. The remainder of the play emphasizes the use of language and Carlin becomes an elderly mid-European widow, Dorothy Cleva, who is one of the few able to speak an archaic language and Brodie is recording her speech patterns for posterity. Sadly, the process of recording unconnected words triggers horrendous past memories and throws the widow into panic depression.

Precious Little is a splendid production with the fine acting, adept staging and multiple levels of interest compressed into 80 minutes without intermission. Shotgun does not disappoint but the play needs work.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com

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