Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Dome


By Deborah Abramson, Michael L. Cooper, Rinne Groff, Jason Grote, Hyeyoung Kim, Norman Lasca, Laura Marks, Marisa Michelson, David A. Miller. Directors: May Adrales, David Miller, Stefanie Sertich. Prospect Theatre Company at the West End Theatre. (CLOSED)

No one faults the Prospect Theatre Company and its artistic director Cara Reichel for ambition: This new anthology work brings together a cast of fourteen, nine writers, three directors, and hundreds of interviewees to create three interweaving pieces dealing with big themes ("Hey Baby," about a pregnant couple; "Hypothesis," about Voltaire and his brilliant lover; and "Break Time," about the West End theater space itself). But if there's any consensus about the result, it is that it's a bit of a grab bag; and while some critics find pearls and gems in the mix, others find the whole effort a dome shame.

Theatermania B
(Dan Balcazo) Interweaving three primary plot lines with songs and monologues, the work contains plenty of charm even if not every individual component is successful...The first act culminates in the rousing title tune, "The Dome," with music by Hyeyoung Kim and lyrics by Michael Cooper. Deborah Abramson's poignant song, "Liliana," is well sung by Sarah Statler, and fits in nicely with themes in some of the other pieces in the program, particularly Hey Baby. On the downside, a quartet of monologues, written by Norman Lasca, are scattered throughout The Dome, but none of them really amounts to much. Similarly, Michelson's song collaboration with Jason Grote, "Wreck / Time" makes good use of the chorus of performers but otherwise doesn't make much of an impression.

Backstage B-
(Karl Levett) Nothing if not high-minded and ambitious...Curiously, much too late in the second act, Reichel introduces some extraneous material that doesn't fit into the weave and mars the shaping of the show...All this plus some well-intentioned anthems pile a lot on the plate, so at times the mystifying proceedings are in need of clarification. Paradoxically, as the various strands develop, they become overly conventional in tone. Similarly, the show's prologue features a paean to the space's acoustics, but ironically the vocal projection of lyrics in several of the songs is found wanting.

CurtainUp C+
(Julia Furay) For starters, the good news. Norman Lasca's various monologues are excellent...However, the three major stories are for the most part too clumsy, containing lots of ideas and interesting bits of history but little to keep the audience engaged in terms of character or storyline...The music is uneven, reflecting its varied authorship without the needed unifying quality...The Dome is unquestionably a heartfelt piece. Its lack of irony stands in stark contrast to so much of what's out there these days. The show's sweet wonder about the universal mysteries of life, when combined with the unwavering visual beauty of the show, lead to snatches of genuinely moving theatre. Too often, though, the soaring vision of the play is let down by its lack of craftsmanship.

Talkin' Broadway D+
(Matthew Murray) The evening’s directors are so obsessed with the heavens that they’re constantly urging your eyes skyward...This show may have been inspired by concepts of eternity as they relate to religion, humanity, and the very art of the theatre, but its languid attempts to convey their perennial urgency are not especially inspiring in turn...The Dome combines, collides, and confuses three large stories and several smaller ones without making much sense of any of them.

Time Out NY F
(Helen Shaw) Punishingly dull...For a long, long time, an overtaxed cast tries to mount an unsingable musical about a nervous new father and his pregnant girlfriend (domelike tummy), a deeply regrettable series of gluey monologues about places like Giants Field (the dome of the sky) and a sticky tuner about Voltaire and his mathematician mistress (dome is where the heart is). Otherwise-talented types like Rinne Groff and Jason Grote are involved, but do not be swayed by your affection for their other work. Spare yourself the wiggly-armed choreography, the unbearable sense of self-importance, the mangled Viewpoints-esque staging and the avalanche of mime babies. And don’t blame the participants too much: This one was domed from the start.

Theatermania B 10; Backstage B- 9; CurtainUp C+ 8; Talkin' Broadway D+ 5; Time Out NY F 1; 33/5=6.6 (C)

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