I can only hope to do more shows with this wonderful theatre.
- Brendan Carruthers: Thank you for your direction and for keeping us on track. You’re a wonderful director and a wonderful human being. I look forward to working with you again!
- Vic Unruh: ‘Twas a delight to work with you again, arguing with you onstage and just the all around connection. I hope to work with you again!
- Robert Wall: It was a delight to be your onstage wife and a joy to witness what you did with your character. Our pairing wasn’t so oddball, but we connected well onstage.
- Bernard Boland: Loved your voice, your photography and your performance. I often felt like an audience member watching you perform on the same stage and I also loved hearing your stories of your theatrical history. I wonder if I’ll pop up on one of your stories in the future when you tell people of your time with this show?
- Kevin Longfield: I’ve known you for years, we’ve been background extras for so many films and tv shows, we’ve done a short film a few years ago, but we actually shared the stage and had a scene together. Let’s hope we have more onstage and on-camera moments!
- Densfield Green: You’ve been like a brother during this time. It was insightful to see you at work, how you wrestled with your role, your process, your technique and your positive “can do” attitude towards you work ethic. May we do more theatre and more films together. Also, thank you for saving me bus fare in giving me rides to the theatre with you and your dad. That should be the subject for a film or a fringe show in itself!
- Carol McQuarrie, Grace Lackman, Deirdre Carruthers, Justin Olynyk, Pat McDonnell Ian Fillingham: Your presence rounded out our production. Your dependability and your personalities were very appreciated. Your hard work was felt and your professionalism was definitely admired. I look forward to working with you all again in the future!
- Tara Players: I’ve seen your shows in past Master Playwright Festivals and marvelled at the opportunity to be a part of Shanleyfest. I’m still in awe that I had this chance to perform on your stage, as many others have before me and after me. Although I can now check this box off my list of theatres to perform in, I hope this isn’t the last.
- John Patrick Shanley: I’ve performed Savage in Limbo many years ago, when I went to an acting studio. You became one of my favourite playwrights since then and you still are. My only disappointment is that you didn’t come out for the festival for me to meet you and tell you this in person, but such is life, eh? You’re on my bucket list of people to meet. Keep me in mind. Also, thank you for having written such a play and thank you for such a wonderful person like Jessie Cortez, who I’ll miss portraying for two weeks.
By: Randall King
Posted: 02/3/2018 3:00 AM |
John Patrick Shanley’s drama Storefront Church feels like an especially topical work, placed as it is in the triple-nexus of politics, commerce and religion.
Alas, this issues-oriented production from the Tara Players has some issues of its own, including a running time that spills well over the 110 minutes promised on the ShanleyFest program. The true length is closer to 130 minutes, although some of those minutes on the opening night may have been the result of actors forgetting their lines.
If there was a spectrum of professionalism when it comes to participating ShanleyFest companies, the Tara Players would appear on the amateur half. But that is not to say they don’t create compelling theatre.
Nor should you assume you won’t see professional quality actors. In this case, your attention will likely be drawn to Vic Unruh, who plays Donaldo Calderon, the president of a Bronx borough association committed to bringing money and business into the benighted New York district.
Donaldo is beseeched by old family friend Jessie Cortez (Lorraine James) to intervene with a local bank that is threatening to foreclose on Jessie’s house. Jessie’s husband Ethan Goldklang (Robert Wall) already has failed to appeal to the humanity of loan officer Reed Van Druyten (Kevin Longfield), suffering a heart attack in the bargain.
Donaldo is good to go to bat, until he learns the reason why Jessie has assumed a crushing debt is because she has rented the storefront space of her property to a Louisiana pastor, Chester (Densfield Green) for use as a church. The trouble is that Chester is not paying rent and is not particularly expedient in his plan to open his church to the public, crippled as he is by depression in the wake of losing his first church in the devastation of hurricane Katrina.
Chester proves intransigent to Donaldo’s efforts to compel him to make good his debt to Jessie.
But he has rather more luck with the bank president, Tom (Bernard Boland), who needs Donaldo onside for a $300-million development planned for the Bronx.
All these characters will meet up at the church, including Reed, a first-time church attendee nonplussed by the religious experience, but not immune to the promise of some kind of salvation.
The dialogue is all-important in a Shanley play, especially when characters are speaking in the specific wiseguy cadences of New York-ese. Unruh does particularly good work at this, and he tends to anchor the drama as a result, abetted by James and Wall as an eccentrically-matched married couple.
As a pastor paralysed by an apparent crisis of faith, Densfield Green submits a problematic performance, speaking Shanley’s lines with a clipped phrasing that is sometimes difficult to understand. As the icy bank loan officer with a crazy-colourful past, Kevin Longfield likewise has a stilted delivery that infringes on the flow of the piece. Boland does good, capable work as the genteel banker with the ominous surname Raidenberg.
The play itself is an interesting examination of the ways in which doing the right thing can go wrong. With that in mind, ShanleyFest pass holders are advised to sample this show later in its run when the actors may have a better command of the material.
Read more by Randall King.
I had an interview with Ligia Braidotti last week and it’s here for you to read.
Conscience is the most dangerous thing you possess,” Shanley says. “If you wake it up it may destroy you. To live a life of total moral rigor is not necessarily the way to go. It’s the path for very few people. Most people need to come up with some kind of middle ground that satisfies their practical, moral, and philosophical esthetic needs.
Our show happens February 1-10, 2018, so come to see spirituality versus corporations, heart and soul versus heartlessness and soullessness. So far, I’m enjoying the company of these fine actors. Rehearsals are a process of discovery, of creative research and bloopers galore when someone messes up (I’m not saying Who though 😉).
Come because you know my work, come if you don’t, come because you’re familiar with the work that Tara Players pumps out, come because there’s a cast member you favour, come because you’re related to me and Get to brag about it, come so you can make fun of my performance in it, come because I told you to, come because you need a warm theatre to thaw off into, come because you’re a fan of John Patrick Shanley, come because tickets are affordable, come because you want to witness how the heart of corporation can melt under the charm of a soulful person.
Goodness gracious, come already!
ShanleyFest info right here.