Author: Elise Hanson-Barnett

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF Shines in an Intimate Space

SALT LAKE CITY–It’s as important to choose a worthy opponent as a worthy partner. So stands the lesson learned in Edward Albee‘s deeply twisted Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, put on for the first time in several decades by the intrepid Pinnacle Acting Company, under the direction of L.L. West. The dark, fiendish little play tells the story of a married couple, George and Martha, who invite a younger couple, Nick and his unnamed wife (merely referred to as “Honey”), into their home for the evening to share in some casual commingling after a faculty event at the college wherein the two men are colleagues. The night unravels faster than can be predicted as the sadistic chess game between the alcoholic and overbearing Martha and the truculent and playfully calculating George unfolds before the unsuspecting guests. It says something of a production, I think, wherein the acting, directing, and technical aspects are all affected so flawlessly that there is hardly a need to speak of anything but the beautifully drawn, brutal story that is enjoyed by those participating. Nevertheless, I will speak on these things, because they are indeed worth bringing to the attention of the theater-going community. In his director’s note, West mentions carrying on a “love affair” with this work. Upon watching the finished product, his meaning was evident. Everything, from the furniture and bar glasses, laid out by...

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Short, sweet Shakespeare in HENRY V

OREM — If there’s one thing I appreciate in modern productions of Shakespeare, it is a theater company’s ability to cut the script. As Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It is important to acknowledge, I believe, that today’s audiences are unused to sitting at a play for four hours, so the omission of unnecessary plot points and dialogue can not only make the bard’s work more accessible, but also refreshing. Henry V tells the story of the Prince Hal of Henry IV Parts I and II coming into his own and taking up the crown of Britain, despite...

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The Grand Theatre’s NOISES OFF is a laugh riot

SALT LAKE CITY — As a reviewer, it is a delight to see a show so well-executed in every aspect–in set design, in acting, in directing, in lighting and sound and costuming–that one’s only challenge at that point is to try and refrain from gushing. I will strive to do my best in this review of the Grand Theatre’s Noises Off!. Noises Off! is the story of a cast of actors who perform in the fictional play Nothing On. Quite frankly, Nothing On is not good, and tensions form among the cast members and stage hands. As the interpersonal difficulties...

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IT’S A WONDROUS LIFE: a cheerful take on a classic story

SALT LAKE CITY — The Off Broadway Theatre knows how to do the holidays. From the moment I walked into the meticulously and aesthetically decorated lobby, opulent despite its small size, I knew I was in a different and very calming universe, a place that feels like home and a winter wonderland all at once. The stage, too, despite simple drops and a minimal hard set, was beautiful. A white archway with dangling curtains of sparkling turquoise was the main focal draw at several points in the show, and I applaud Eric Jensen for his ability to make special things...

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GETTING OUT: An immersing story of reinvention

SALT LAKE CITY — Getting Out tells the story of a woman named Arlene who is on parole following her second stint in prison for the second-degree murder of a cab driver. She is a largely uneducated woman from Kentucky, a victim of an abusive childhood and an impoverished adulthood. Her time spent as a prostitute has hardened her and also given her a child, with whom she hopes to reunite. As the play opens, a warden’s voice comes over the loudspeaker, announcing Arlene’s parole. Arlene is led out by two prison guards, and then released. Next, we see...

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