Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2017’
Gertrude Stein and a Companion: Play by Win Wells. Directed by Kathryn L. Wood and John Fisher. Theatre Rhinoceros, Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, (at Battery St.) San Francisco, CA. www.The Rhino.org. Dec. 28, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017
Gertrude Stein and a Companion a meritorious performance by The Rhino at the Eureka Theatre Rating:
To refresh your memory, Theatre Rhinoceros, founded in 1977, is the longest running Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) theatre in the nation. For their latest production they tackle a biographical relationship between a remarkable/famed woman who stimulated the artistic world in the early and mid-20th. Century. That woman was the Gertrude Stein and the companion of 40 years was Alice B. Toklas. The undertaking must have been a great challenge for playwright Win Wells and now for the Rhino.
Win Wells wrote the play as a two hander using a non-linear format extracting lines from Stein and Toklas’ writings and from what was written about them creating an affectionate look at the intimate side of the relationship. It all begins with Stein’s ghost returning to have the imaginary conversation with Toklas reminiscing and reliving specific events of their life together.The play shifts back and forth from their first meeting to their deaths. Their dialog is mingled words of other characters they have known. Although the play is written for two characters that play all the parts it can be produced with a third person playing “Everybody Else.” Directors Kathryn Wood and John Fisher have elected to use the third character.
The decision to use the third character was not effective and at times distracting. However Kathryn Wood as Stein and Elaine Jennings as Toklas give well rounded and touching performances often breaking the third wall addressing the audience.
Many in the audience will remember specific lines from Stein’s work that brought eruption of laughs or sounds of understanding with her use of repetition in her writing. Yes, “A rose is a rose, A rose is a rose, A rose is a rose” is there and is mirrored with the stringer lights in Times Square on their return to the USA, “ Gertrude Stein is back, Gertrude Stein is back etc.”.
There are snatches of information that will pique your interest. Stein’s writings were not universally read and Toklas took it upon herself to sell a Picasso painting to pay for printing, advertising and distribution thus getting them in the mainstream.
The lesbianism is tastefully handled with a single kiss within the stage directions. This leaves the strength of their relationship firmly expressed in their words to each other speaking torrents of understanding “before the flowers on friendship faded.”
The Rhino staging is very fluid and scenic design by Kathryn Wood and John Fisher creates the feeling of an art gallery with replicas of famous paintings, including Stein’s portrait by Picasso (by Kirsten Tradowsky) lining the back wall. Running time about 90 minutes including a 15 minute intermission.
CAST:Haley Bertelsen (Young Woman), Elaine Jennings (Alice), Kathryn L. Wood (Gertrude).
ARTISTIC STAFF: Directors, Kathryn Wood, John Fisher; Stage Manager, Lila Mullins; Dramaturg, Hans Gallas; Paintings, Kirsten Tradowsky; Scenic Designers, Kathryn Wood, John Fisher; Costume Designer, Kathryn Wood; Lighting Designer, Sean Keehan.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.
Pictured left to right: Elaine Jennings as Alice and Kathryn L. Wood as Gertrude in Win Wells’s GERTRUDE STEIN AND A COMPANION directed by Kathryn L. Wood and John Fisher
A Theatre Rhinoceros Production at the Eureka Theatre. Photo by David Wilson