No doubt to the chagrin of creationists, there is a very cool arena show touring the U.S. called Walking with Dinosaurs. It’s aimed at kids, but was enjoyable for adults too. I’m thinking the stage size must have been approximately the size of a hockey rink, and the Key Arena seating was a U-shape around it. A narrator tells you interesting things about the dinosaurs and the vegetation on Earth during the various geologic eras, and HUGE ASS MOVING REPLICA DINOSAURS move around the stage. Recommended! It has already left Seattle though.

pix after the jump.



This year we really didn’t see much else outside our ACT subscription. I think in previous years we’ve managed to see one or two productions at other places.

By far the highlight for me of the ACT season was White White Black Stork. I might put it among the top 10 plays/productions I’ve ever seen, which is a pretty intense compliment for a show that I had to read translated supertitles to understand.

What plays did you enjoy this year?

ACT The final show of ACT’s 2008 season was a comedy that the theater commissioned from a local playwright. Becky’s New Car tells the story of a middle-aged housewife who works in a car dealership. One night when she’s working late, an anxious and wealthy widower comes in and proceeds to buy nine cars from her because he doesn’t know what to get as gifts for his employees. She accidentally implies that she’s a widow, and he instantly bonds with her. His exuberance and continued misinterpretations prevent her from correcting him…

It was a great show to end the season on – very funny, with cute staging in the round and solid performances from a very strong cast. R. Hamilton Wright, whom we’ve seen in many ACT productions, stole the show with a fantastically funny diatribe about hiking with a dog. In the second act, he announced “Blackmail is FUN!” I guess you had to be there.

My only complaint is very minor – once in a while the play breaks the 4th wall and the actors interact with audience members. Once in a while that technique works for me, but usually it just seems like a cheap and cheesy way to get a quick laugh.

I’m already excited for the 2009 season, which will open with Tom Stoppard’s Rock and Roll, which we saw in London a couple of years ago.

ACTI almost don’t know what to say about this play, maybe because we only saw a fraction of it. The premise of the action is that small decisions can lead to dramatically different outcomes. So, on any given night, a small decision goes one way or another, and that determines how relationships evolve and what scenes the audience sees. I love “what if” explorations, so the concept is appealing.

The version we saw was cute and farcical, we laughed and enjoyed it. But I feel like it was sort of an empty experience – like I’d need to attend a minimum of two shows to begin to actually appreciate the work, which on its own was just an OK story. And our version’s final scene seemed to come from nowhere, not obviously following from the preceding action although at some level I think that was the point. Intimate Exchanges was not a deep meditation on interesting themes for me, so what sustains after seeing one version?

The other puzzling part of the experience was the choice to have 2 actors playing the 6 roles. From an academic standpoint I get why that would be challenging and a useful exercise for the actors, but from an audience standpoint I don’t know what we gain from it that isn’t gimmicky.

So yeah. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure if I liked it. Huh.

Wow. Just caught this theater/dance/circus show that’s performed on tall flexible poles. Gorgeous and delightful. Picture doesn’t do justice.

ACT Holy cats. We rarely see ACT put on turkeys, but this musical medley “celebration” of Noel Coward was excruciating. Within 3 minutes this witless pastiche was already over the legal limit for mugging, hamming, pandering, and yuk-yuking. About a quarter of the way into it, we bolted for the door and never looked back.

ACTAfter two plays with abstract sets and supertitles for Uzbek and Russian dialogue, ACT served up a more traditional play about, well, fathers and sons. Set in a nice apartment in NYC but on kind of a dull set, a father (Leon) tries to bridge his estrangement from his son (Marcus), whose own toddler son (Stephen) has disappeared. Meanwhile the trumpet-playing ghost of the elder man’s father (Benard) haunts him.

The storytelling, as you might imagine, is intentionally disjointed and moves around through time and reality as Leon/Benard and Marcus/Leon variously confront one another about their failings as fathers and husbands, and Marcus has several flashbacks to interactions with his wife Yvette.

I see that critical response has been mixed, but we enjoyed it. The material is obviously kind of downer, but by the end I felt like it was the most hopeful downer I’d seen in a while. And we loved the convincing performance of the actor playing Leon. Leon appeared to be using all his concentration to avoid flying to pieces, and his shoulders had crept up to ear-level in a permanently defensive posture.

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