Valentino: a play in verse

theatre · david wisehart and rachel stoll · Ages 12+ · world premiere · United States

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Review by CHRIS SALAZAR
June 22, 2010

My overall impression

I attended the opening night performance of this show and it was certainly a great way to start off my Hollywood Fringe experience. Much praise to Mr.Wisehart’s successful foray into creating a play entirely in verse. Even more impressive though, was his genuine and warm curtain speech. He literally lifted up other Fringe participants’ shows to the audience. It was a selfless act that exemplified the true essence of community and I was thrilled to see such a gesture.

Just as the playwright has committed himself to a tall task, so have the players. They take on the demanding text fervently but still with a focus on story-telling. Admittedly, the performances were not uniformly strong- some seemed to not fully grasp what they were saying and at times it appeared that the actors weren’t really concerned with communicating with scene partners. This can make the plot difficult to follow. Still, there was a whole-hearted dedication to the story and a few really nice acting turns.

My only other “concern” would be in regard to the stage combat. Often times, violence on stage must walk a thin line: looking real enough to convince the audience that there IS real danger & actually being dangerous. If it seems silly the audience will think it is silly and if it seems unsafe the audience will fear for the safety of the actors and those in the front row. It just seemed that at times there was an overzealousness for the fights (of which there were many) and the choreography often seemed clunky.

These minor detractions aside, “Valentino: a play in verse” succeeds on many levels. It offers a unique theatrical voice and a platform for strong ensemble acting. Also, it tells an intriguing story. Certainly a nice contribution to the festival.

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