musicals and operas · the collective beat ensemble · Ages 12+ · United States of America

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Review by anonymous

June 25, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

The introduction of the two girls leaving to go make something of themselves artistically is a nice choice and feels pulled from the beginning of The Bell Jar in a good way. I also really liked the scene of Joyce and Jack meeting and falling for each other – there was good chemistry in the performers and the staging, and a clear immediacy of attraction. It was interesting choice to use Allen Ginsberg as the fairy godfather tying the individual stories together as well.

What I didn't like

It might be an issue of life rights, but if we could get more details in any of the scenarios, it would be a lot easier to get emotionally involved in the characters and plot.The historical references were cryptic and often confusing, and overall, the call of “writing truth” and “revolution” just felt like catch phrases pulled out to refrain over group numbers. Trying to capture (even a portion) of a movement, especially the complex Beat Generation, is ambitious and there is so much to pull from, but right now it feels like the play is just scratching the surface of this potential. In terms of the lead characters’ personal journeys, like the anxiety of getting published or differentiating oneself from one’s romantic partner, are dealt with in general ways that could use specific grounding in the issues of these individuals in their day. What is each woman uniquely up against in the world outside the rooms we see them in and what does she need to actually fight for to get what she wants? Focusing on the two straight, white women in this diverse milieu is fine, but their general struggles frequently fall back on cliches and I’ve seen the story of struggling artists so many times before, regardless of the era. These are extremely interesting real people, and there is clearly a strong sense of artistry and musicality in this play, I just think it could use some more specificity in representing the people and time that it is focused on to truly achieve the dynamic ensemble story it is aiming at.

My overall impression

Overall, the performances, music and costumes were well designed and really helped to establish the world and the feel of this vibrant historical time. The actual plot and characters could use more work and less generality to truly grab my heart and attention.

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