According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Monday, January 29, 2007


(Chosen as one of The New Theater Corps'
FIVE FAVORITES for 2/2/07)
by Moira Buffini
Dir. by Suzanne Agins
The Roundtable Ensemble
American Theatre of Actors, 314 W 54th St

A tale of medieval corruption, brutality and mysticism by Moira Buffini, Silence is a problem play: interesting material but mishandled. It would be a hard production to pull off on any level and this particular production has it’s moments, but never seems up to speed.

Running in rep with the Taming of the Shrew and a one woman show, the Mammy Project, and sharing similar themes, Silence deals with issues of gender, power, identity, and transformation in Dark Age England. In particular, the play concentrates on the suppression of distinct social sectors- the female sex, servant class, and clergy- with obvious moral lessons for the modern audience.

The plot follows French princess Ymma (Kelly Hutchinson), sent to England in punishment for her wild-ways, where, at the mercy of King Ethelred (played skillfully with growing power and blood lust by Joe Plummer) she is married to an adolescent Duke of Cumbria- the eponymous Viking boy “Silence” (Makela Spielman).

Following a treasonous incident, Ymma’s court, including a patient handmaid (Helen Coxe), fumbling priest (Greg Hildreth) and self-proclaimed clairvoyant guard (Chris Kipiniak), flee to the north pursued by the hot-headed King. It is along this journey that the play looses momentum, puttering into stagnant direct address. A major fault of the play in my opinion, these spoken narratives hinder the play’s dramatic integrity, effectively spoon feeding the plot, with no room remaining to decipher dialogue and actions. The sheer size of the space itself renders the play all the more unsubstantial, swallowing the modest set and pondering characters.

Still, the actors did their best to serve the script, with the comedic Shakespearian rendering of “Roger the priest” by Hildrith and macho, divinely inspired characterization of “Eadric, the king’s man” by Kipiniak adding much needed seasoning. All in all the production was well intentioned and the play is interesting conceptually, but both seem in need of guts and some good old medieval gumption.

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