Thursday, August 9, 2012

In Walk's Ed - Review

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“In Walks Ed” was the first play I ever attended and it was most enjoyable. I had no idea what to expect from the start. One of the things that first stood out at the theatre was the fact that all the employees were dressed in all black. When I enquired, I found out that they all dress in black so as not to distract the patrons from the entire performance. I was most impressed with the entire feel of the Ensemble Theatre, from the calmness and quietness of the entire area, to its interior design around the ticket booth area. This play felt like an edgy like a love story, filled with denial and every character seemed to be searching for something or looking for a goal. The five production elements I would like to focus on in this paper are; acting, directing, lighting, text, and theatre space.

It tells the story of Paladin, a gun for hire who comes back to his old stomping ground after a successful 15 year campaign of slaying numerous souls, even that of his boss. He, Paladin is haunted by the love he left behind, his lost love Darlene, who has now given up her criminal ways to the extent to which she has now become a cop. Paladin decides to come back anyway knowing that it could be his downfall, he knows that he could stay away and start a new life without Darlene, with his million dollars, but too him, her love meant too much to him. Maybe he believes that his soul would be empty without Darlene even with all the money that he has, so he decides to come back, with his old partner now enemy on his heels, Paladin tries to redeem the only true thing, the only thing that stood the test of time and meant everything to him… his love for Darlene.

All the actors in this play were believable. It seemed as if they were suited for the roles that the played, as if they were they people they were playing. Even though, the actor Kirk Dautrive looked much older than the character that he was playing, he did a good job.

The performers that I believed did a winning job in this play were Wayne Dehart, Broderick Jones, and Kirk Dautrive who played Sky, Eddie Paladin, and Pete respectively. Dehart’s portrayal of Sky was very believable, from the way he looked, (as being the owner of the bar), to his confident delivery of his lines; it was as if the audience was not even there. He even moved around with a slight limp that added some depth to the character, even though Dehart has a natural limp. The role of Paladin was well played by Jones; his stature aided him in his portrayal because he gave off this feeling of a professional, his suit that was Portuguese made, the shades, and his custom-made guns. It had professional written all over it. The way in which he walked and spoke his words set him apart from the rest of actors in the film, with an echoing voice, that could be heard throughout the entire theatre, an example of that was when he is tied up and is trying to tell Darlene that he came back to save her not kill her, he shouts “I came back for YOU!”. Thirdly Dautrive, who played the role of Pete, had a comedic performance throughout the entire play. Whenever the play seems to slow down or get a bit stale, he always seems to come up with the right words. An example of that would be the way he behaves when Paladin gives him some of the money at the ending, Pete gets excited, dances around the money, thinks about what he would buy, and then at the end he reminds Sky that he would be back at the bar tomorrow, it was as if Pete never received the money.

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On the other hand, Nicole Ford’s performance was mediocre at best, playing Darlene. She had her up and down moments throughout the play, but overall I felt as if the play didn’t need her as much. Her only highlights came from her fight scene with Bennie when she did no speaking at all. Finally, Jimmie Parker, who played Bennie the Jet, was too eccentric (a word he actually calls himself in the play), his laughs were not funny. One could tell that it was a fake laugh that was used for his character, thinking about it now, maybe he was cast to act like that in the play, but he stood out a bit too much, and not in a good way.

The element of directing seemed to flow throughout the entire presentation. The director, Marsha Jackson Randolph brought about a jazzy feeling to the play. I believe that she did a great job in inspiring the cast for the roles that they played because the scene is set in the mid 170’s to present. It took some work to get the actors into their perspective characters based for that time. All the visual elements-- bar scene, costumes, and lighting suited the time in which the played was based. The actors seemed to have all their steps for this play down. At no time did any of them seem to half step or lose focus at to their position on the set. All of their entrances and exits were smooth.

There was never a point in the play where there were long pauses or interruptions, it kept its jazzy flow throughout the play, even during the intermission. There was a felling that you were in a club similar to it, and there wan an artist on stage jiving or singing the blues.

Another element that is focused on is that of lighting. The lighting was effective in its portrayal of the time, place, characters, and situation of the play; it was dark, noisy, and smoky. The colors that were used again continued that jazzy vibe that was felt in the play. Colors such as purple and orange were used throughout the play. I believe that the lighting was realistic for this play; the scene was a bar, so it came with that dark hard to see feeling, the light source felt natural, there were only too sources of bright light, they came from the back room of the bar, and the front door, which I believe was a nice touch, that way you could anticipate someone coming into the bar, the use of automated lights. Nice touches to the lighting would be the jukebox that was situated in the corner of the set and a part of the play when Paladin decided to take a smoke; you can’t have a bar without someone smoking. That was a nice touch.

Now I would discuss the production element of text. This play was an improvisatory piece subtitled “The Essence of Soul, In a Late Night Mode” from director Ms. Randolph. Throughout the text, the author is trying to communicate to the audience the trials of Paladin; in his quest to redeem his self and reclaim Darlene. It shows the life of Sky who partially raised Paladin and then betrays him. I believe that that genre of this play is a tragicomedy.

In Walks Ed is also climatic in its nature, the plot began late in the play, and everything seemed to be set up in the past. As the textbooks says “In climatic structure, then, the play begins when all the roads of the past converge at one crucial intersection in the present-in other words, at the climax…a second consequence if the fact that the plot begins late in the story is that the time span covered within a climatic play is usually brief” (The Theatre Experience 8th Ed. pg. 6) as in the case with this play, a few hours. The background of the director had to do with the way the text was presented in the play, at times it sounded like poetry or spoken word.

The Ensemble Theatre is the preeminent African American arts theatre in Houston. This year would be there 7th year for them, and they intend to put on 5 productions for the 00-004 season. As a person of African decent, I feel it very important to have a place where plays by minority playwrights can be showcased.

In conclusion, this play was soulful and dramatic, it kept my attention for the entire two hours, the music, the setting, the acting, and the entire package was respectable. I was thankful for my opportunity to have a theatre experience that this class gave me, hopefully the three remaining plays we would be as enjoyable.

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