Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Things as They Are
Todd has developed the story further by adding original music by Ben Chasny. The music has some of the flavor of the era in which Stevens lived. The music and the story are in some scenes set to dance and movement choreography by Michael Hinton. Keep in mind, this is a story with music; it is not a musical. Some scenes include commedia dell'arte choreography by Cleo D'Orio.
The story moves through Wallace Stevens' life, from a young man to a dying man in his 70s. Jason Markouc (Young Wallace Stevens) and Robert Hawkes (Mature Wallace Stevens) are excellent in their respective roles. The script and Anjanette Hall (director) permit the audience to watch Stevens grow and mature, the character on stage slowly modulating through life.
Steven's wife Elsie, played by Laura Starnik, evolves through mental illness and we see the impact she has on Wallace, both personally and professionally.
The story moves well and holds the audience's interest, but it is too long. The running time is two hours and thirty minutes, with a 15 minute intermission. So much of it works well. However, I think it would be better with a few sections cut. Perhaps the commedia dell-arte scenes could be removed or shortened, or some of the ballet scenes.
Actors Hawkes and Markouc let their characters meld together to bring an evolving man to life in Things as They Are.
Playwrights Local's Things as They Are through May 27, 2017, in Reinberger Auditorium, 5209 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. For more information, visit playwrightslocal.org or call 216-302-8856.
Playwright: David Todd