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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Beauty and the Beast
Synetic Theater

Also see Susan's review of The Nutcracker


Irina Kavsadze and Vato Tsikurishvili
Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia, has found an ideal property in Beauty and the Beast. Director Ben Cunis, who also adapted the story along with his brother Peter, and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili have created a lush, almost feverish theatrical experience, impressive to see and satisfying (if at times a little slow) to watch.

The method of storytelling goes beyond Synetic's skill with movement as a means of emotional expression. A narrator named Emmeranne (Renata Veberyte Loman) sets up the backstory as actors present the action in silhouette behind a screen—an effect that depicts how a witch transformed a selfish prince (Vato Tsikurishvili) into a beast with a bearlike body and ram's horns, and the circumstances that led to the meeting between the Beast and pretty and intelligent Belle (Irina Kavsadze).

As affecting and sympathetic as Kavsadze's characterization is, this is the Beast's show, and Vato Tsikurishvili ably conveys the anguish and frustration of his character while leaping off high platforms, defying gravity by somersaulting up a slope, and generally revealing human passions in animal terms. Loman is a commanding presence whenever she appears, and Matthew Alan Ward makes an impression as the Beast's cadaverous butler.

Along with the depth of the performances, the overall sense of the production is richly Gothic. Daniel Pinha's scenic design centers on that "magic" revolving screen, surrounded by drooping swags of ragged fabric that somehow suggest heat and decadence. The qualities of Brittany Diliberto's lighting design shift with the changing moods, while Kendra Rai's costumes range from Belle's artless dress, and later her flowing gown, to the grayish-beige body coverings for the Beast's servants.

Synetic Theater
Beauty and the Beast
December 3 - January 11, 2015
Adapted by Ben and Peter Cunis
Based on the story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Beast: Vato Tsikurishvili
Belle: Irina Kavsadze
Fantome: Matthew Alan Ward
Jean Paul/Ensemble: Hector Reynoso
Narrator/Witch "Emmeranne": Renata Veberyte Loman
Claudette/Ensemble: Anna Lane
Marie/Ensemble: Kathryn Elizabeth Kelly
Avenant/Ensemble: Joseph Carlson
Young Witch/Ensemble: Katrina Clark
Ensemble: Zana Gankhuyag, Ryan Alan Jones, Chanel Smith
Directed by Ben Cunis
Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili
1800 S. Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Ticket Information: 866-811-4111 or www.synetictheater.org


Photo: Johnny Shryock


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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