Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dan Willens in Beantown Bloggery

Wheelock Family Theatre has produced here a greatly approachable introduction to Charles Dickens's most famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Dwayne Hartford's updated language makes the narrative accessible to the modern audience, even to those who may not be familiar with the novel itself. In order to keep the script at a reasonable length, Mr. Hartford has also trimmed the tale to its essentials--it is tightly focused on the major plotline of the novel and the 10 or so characters around which it revolves.

Particularly notable performances come from Bill Mootos as Sydney Carton (who also acts as the narrator) and Jane Staab as Madame Defarge. Mr. Mootos aptly represents Carton's initially dogged cynicism, as well as its gradual softening towards his eventual redemption. Ms. Staab's portrayal of Madame Defarge's lust for vengeance, on the other hand, heightens intensely as the plot reaches its climax. The costumes are rich and convincing, and the set, austere by design and with only a few changing elements, is cleverly used to represent everything from the galleries of a London courtroom to the streets of Paris during the storming of the Bastille.

Wheelock Family Theatre, true to their mission of engaging the whole family in the theater experience, has also spent the time to create a helpful study guide providing discussion questions for the audience. At each show, they also offer an event (in our case, a debate on the themes of the narrative) to further encourage audience discussion and participation.The play is runs through the end of the month so you've got two more weeks to kick it in gear and get over there and see it.

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Wheelock Family Theatre always hopes to engage in a lively dialogue. All voices make up our varied and colorful family and free speech is a cherished right. While critical analysis is welcome, and indeed, anticipated; discriminatory or hateful language will not be tolerated.