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Theater Notes: Three plays a second time

February 10, 2014
By SID SIMON (sancapnews@breezenewspapers.com) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

I went back again to see three plays I have already reviewed. Why do I do that? Well, if you're a theater lover, you've done it as well. But these three, in my not so humble Theater Critic's view, are the three best things I've seen all season, and it has been a pretty lively season, as you know. I put them clearly on a MUST SEE LIST for you. Sadly, only two of them will still be running when you read this.

My favorite is still THE GOD GAME at Gulfshore Playhouse. It is such a perfect production, and because it is as contemporary as the aftermath of the 2012 Election, and as impending as what will happen in 2016. It is theater for those of us demanding something beyond entertainment. The play will confront you on many levels. You well might walk out of that theater, overwhelmed with feelings. Perhaps even numb with wondering, "What would I have done? What choices would I have made that would be true to who I really am?" That's what I expect from theater that matters, from theater that is brave enough to be downright courageous.

The second one I would have you add to your MUST SEE LIST is a play, if you are truly theater savvy, you may have seen more than once already in your long life: Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN. I saw it first on Broadway with Lee Jay Cobb and Mildred Dunnock, and I remember seeing it again with Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman, and Biff Loman played by John Malkovich, some time in the 80's. But if your only experience of it was the movie, you haven't seen the real Arthur Miller.

Do you know the theater legend that on opening night on Broadway, the audience failed to applaud when the curtain came down? Back stage everyone thought they were stuck in a flop. In actuality, the audience was just so stunned that they sat there with the confrontation of what they had just seen. Eventually, the roar began, and the audience wouldn't quit applauding until they raised the curtain many more times to a standing ovation that went on and on.

It certainly happened the two times I saw THE DEATH OF A SALESMAN at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. They have done a superb job with a difficult play. It is just one more courageous success for a very courageous theater. They are at 1634 Woodford Ave. Unfortunately the play closed on Feb. 1. I hope my earlier review pushed you to go. Be alerted, and don't miss out on their next two productions.

One is a riotous satire on "do-gooders" by bad boy playwright Nick Silver, entitled "The Altruist." It opens Feb. 14 and runs until March 8, and later in March they will open a stage version of that delightful movie "The Graduate." It won't have Dustin Hoffman or Anne Bancroft in it, but knowing what they do down at Laboratory Theater of Florida, it will be significant and full of integrity.

Now, lucky folks, you have until Feb. 15 to still catch the Sondheim masterpiece, "Into the Woods" at the BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater right here on the island. Seeing it the second time just made me respect it even more. It's a must see. So don't dally, call the box office at 472-6862, and bring the whole family and half the neighborhood. They will all bless you for your theater savvy. What a kick it is to get back and see something I've loved for a second time.

Keep live theater alive. Go get some kicks for yourself before the final curtain.

 
 

 

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