December 20, 2014

Theatre Review: Theatre in the Dark

 

PHOTO BY JOSEPH DESOTO

Theatre Review: <i>Theatre in the Dark</i>

The cast of Theatre in the Dark at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble running through Dec. 16.

Theatre in the Dark is a fun, unique experience and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to “see” a play in total darkness — as in total blackout while facing a pitch-black stage.

Though we couldn’t see a single thing during Dark, not even shadows, I felt safe and enfolded in the velvety darkness as I filled my mind with the sets and actors.

It is marvelous how taking away one’s sight actually enhances it and this play delivered a true sensory overload that challenged our sense of hearing and even taste.

Yet, as a result, the rest of my senses were fully engaged — especially when they started telling theatre-ghost stories!

“This is a fascinating experiment for everyone involved,” noted Odyssey Theatre artistic director Ron Sossi, who oversaw the production. “How do we create theater without our eyes, using only imagination?”

Sossi certainly did and brilliantly, too.

Working with a large ensemble cast and several directors, Sossi pulled off the nearly impossible — that of staging a fully mounted evening of theatre completely in the dark…except for a single Gothic candle set center stage as the audience filed in.

And then there was none.

Since there are actually no lights, costumes or sets to speak of, credit must go to the fabulous sound design by John Zalewski, who created a beautiful, haunting and sometimes scary sound score that went way beyond just being “theatre on the radio.”

The world premiere of Theatre in the Dark and its companion, More Dark, is an ambitious, two-evening festival featuring twelve actors, six directors and thirteen writers.

Each of the two 90-minute evenings are comprised of 12-15 short pieces, including original, commissioned plays by Sheila Callaghan, Ernest Kearney, Lynn Manning, Anna Nicholas and Ron Sossi.

The outstanding cast worked with a team of directors that includes Jeremy Aluma, Michael Arabian, David Bridel, Vesna Hocevar, Matthew McCray and Ron Sossi on a series of short plays and vignettes performed by the ensemble.

A highlight of the short plays was The Tunnel by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, which was haunting, and Elegant Dinner, by Anna Nicholas, which was sophisticated and hilarious.

The acting ensemble was comprised of Alan Abelew, Jack Axelrod, Marcia Battise, Denise Blasor, Ron Bottitta, Sheelagh Cullen, Jean Gilpin, Beth Hogan, Kristina Lloyd, Anna Nicholas, Cary Thompson and Terry Woodberry.

Overall, they were just amazing as their different voices resonated throughout the theatre as they brought these short plays to life.

Notable in the cast was the consummate theatre pro, Jack Axelrod, who is a treasure among professional actors.

Axelrod’s incredible facility with accents was incredible and he brought a fully realized dimension to the works that took them from just okay to fabulous.

Theatre in the Dark is fun, interesting, and outrageous and well worth the drive to the Odyssey to experience an evening of performances you won’t soon forget.

This is a must see!

Theatre in the Dark runs through Dec. 16, with two evenings of short plays, “Dark” and “More Dark.” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m., and on select Wed. and Thurs. at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30. For a complete performance schedule, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.