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REVIEW: House of Blue Leaves At South Camden Theatre Company

By Ruth K Brown

originally published: 01/20/2016

REVIEW: House of Blue Leaves At South Camden Theatre Company

Dysfunctional and yet iconic characters inhabit most of the productions of  John Guare’s plays.  HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES is no exception introducing the audience to a triad of iconic dreamers … Artie who wants his dream to be reality; Bunny who makes her dreams reality by supporting others’ dreams, and Bananas who has lost her grip on reality and has only dreams left.

How much subtlety and nuance can one expect from a plot that is driven by a zookeeper struggling to be a songwriter, the city-wide frenzy of a papal visit and the potential “blessings” that could provide our dreamers, an AWOL son with negatively bombastic intentions, and a schizophrenic who barks like a dog when reality gets too close?   None … is the answer to that question.   Mania and black comedy are the bywords of this production.  

South Camden Theatre Company opened their production of HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES with director, Susan Jami Paschkes, saying in her program notes that human existence is “…like planets which do not find a path into orbit.”  Paschkes designed with Bob Bingaman and Andrew Cowles a claustrophobic and dark 1965 Queens, NY, cold water flat for our dreamers.   While the placement of the piano and the use of the kitchen itself could be argued to provide better support from optional placement, the apartment is very appropriate.   The placement of areas on either side to provide lighted monologue delivery areas generally works well.   While Bunny’s costumes add period color and panache, the  overall chromatic scheme is like the ethereal Bananas who drifts around in pale nightclothes for the majority of the play.   These people are truly lost planets and their futile hopes for this “special day” to get them into their orbits hang in the air of this production.   

Artie, played with Jackie Gleason-esque bravado and sensitivity by Damian Muziani, inhabits his character giving the audience a full view of how the vagaries of his life buffet him.   Playing Bunny is Gabrielle M. Affleck.  Her performance is a pastiche of comedic abilities.  Affleck’s high-pitched vocality could have been grating but never was and Affleck provided a commanding performance for this excitable, twitchy woman.  Nuance is something to be expected from Bananas, played with aching despair by Susan Chase.   Chase’s ethereal and drifting performance seemed unattached to those around her who are grounded in their daily lives and their current problems.   Chase provided a pictoral difference between the women in Artie’s life but more was needed to show the contradictory elements of her schizophrenia.   Joshua McLucas gives a strong performance as Artie and Banana’s son, Ronnie.   His explanatory monologue about his feelings and the need for the action he is taking is clear and believable in the midst of the chaos that is this day for everyone else.

To use the theatrical phrase, chaos ensues in the second act.   The introduction of pushy nuns, the helpful but easily distracted Hollywood friend, Billy Einhorn, and his wife, Corrinna Stroller, who is deaf  but doesn’t want people to know, keep the action moving right through to the apartment explosion … yes, I said explosion!



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Einhorn and Stroller are played effectively by Tim Sagges and Adriana Alveario, respectively; and the balance of the ensemble adds the final touches of what Guare wants us to believe is modern civilization.   It is a delightful evening of laughter with some wistful touches!  Comedy runs throughout the production and the second act brings hysteria to the stage.  

Come and be entertained by another production well produced by SCTC.

  



House of Blue Leaves is presented by the South Camden Theatre Company now through January 31 at the Waterfront South Theatre, 400 Jasper Street in Camden, New Jersey. For more information visit http://southcamdentheatre.org

REVIEW: House of Blue Leaves At South Camden Theatre Company



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Event calendar
Saturday, Oct 19, 2019


MUSIC

MELVIN SEALS & JGB FEATURING JOHN KADLECIK @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

THE BILSBY BROTHERS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Reock & Roll Revue | A Tribute to Chicago II @ The Millstone Performing Arts Center, Millstone - 7:30pm

Eaglemania @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Last Whispers @ Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair - 8:00pm

RICK SPRINGFIELD & RICHARD MARX @ The Wellmont Theater, Montclair - 7:00pm

KIP MOORE: ROOM TO SPARE ACOUSTIC TOUR @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

American Song -Disney and the Boys: Will and Anthony Nunziata sing the Sherman Brothers @ The Chase Room @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 6:00pm and 8:30pm

Soulshine: An Allman Brothers Experience @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

TOTO @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Floyd Pink @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

Annie Sing-Along! @ Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College, West Windsor Township - 10:00am







THEATRE

East Lynne Theater Company presents POE BY CANDLELIGHT @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

Monster Princess Tales @ West Hudson Arts & Theatre Co, Kearny - 3:00pm

House on Haunted Hill (World Premiere) @ Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood - 4:00pm and 7:30pm

Chasing Rainbows: The Road To Oz @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 8:00pm

Theater of Fear @ The Mill Race Theatrical Company, Mount Holly - 1:30pm and 7:30pm

Our Town @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 8:00pm

The Late Christopher Bean continues at WCP @ Westfield Community Players, Westfield - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Get Happy! Hollywood Hits from Harold Arlen @ The Avenel Performing Arts Center, Avenel - 8:00pm

Comedian Kevin Downey Jr @ Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook - 8:00pm

THE JIM BREUER RESIDENCY @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Jo Koy @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm


DANCE

Nimbus Dance: 15th Anniversary Crystal Gala 2019 @ Harborside Atrium, Jersey City - 7:00pm


FILM

A NIGHT WITH CROSSROADS THEATRE COMPANY FEATURING DENZEL WASHINGTON @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:30pm

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