Friday, November 16, 2012

John Hurt Captivates Los Angeles in Krapp's Last Tape

UPDATED: Charles McNulty proclaims Gate Theatre Dublin's Krapp's Last Tape one of the two most memorable productions of 2012, calling the staging "a definitive production of this solo work, thanks to the exquisite tragicomic sensitivity of John Hurt, an actor whose creased face is a poem about time every bit as expressive as Beckett's play."

David Eden Productions applauds John Hurt and Gate Theatre Dublin on their wildly successful engagement at Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre with Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, directed by Michael Colgan. As was the case when David Eden Productions partnered with the Gate to present this landmark staging at the Shakespeare Theatre and at BAM last winter, audiences and critics were unanimous in their praise for this revelatory production.

Photo: Anthony Woods
“Magnificent…not to be missed.”
Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times

“A dramatic poem of genius…executed by the brilliantly talented John Hurt.”
—Bob Verini, Variety

“Unforgettable. Theater lovers should do everything in their power to get there.”
—Paul Hodgins, The Orange County Register

John Hurt and Anwen Rees-Myers on opening night
Photo: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

In a virtuoso solo acting turn that is as technically accomplished as it is acutely felt, Hurt channels Beckett’s compassionately rueful comic spirit, delighting in the free intermingling of somber philosophical themes and subtle slapstick.… the distinguished British actor’s magnificent rendition… Verbally precise but equally deft with silence and movement… his soulful eyes registering every fleeting hurt and happiness… This is an actor in vintage form in a play that is as soft as it is stark.

John Hurt is perfect. And he stares forward at us, into the darkness, lips twisted in anguish, eyes brimming with heartache.

The most compelling minutes I’ve ever experienced in a theatre…powerful and unforgettable. This is acting at its finest.... Anyone who values great acting and great theater owes it to themselves to rush to the Kirk Douglas before this limited engagement ends.

John Hurt gives a career-defining performance in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape…the laughs are contagious…and Hurt makes us feel every pang.

Inspiring…John Hurt holds the audience’s attention and never lets go of it.... A more fully realized character could not have been wished for.  This is a consummate performance given by one of Britain’s finest actors.

David Eden Productions is thrilled to have been able to continue working this autumn with Center Theatre Group, bringing another magnificent Irish theater production to the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, which hosted the 2011 Los Angeles engagement of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan as part of Druid's seventeen-week US tour of that production. These presentations would not be possible without the continued assistance of Culture Ireland.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ensemble Basiani's American Tour a Triumph

Ensemble Basiani has now returned to Tbilisi, having brought to American shores the rare opportunity to experience the power and precision of Georgia's polyphonic musical heritage in a program of secular and sacred music.
Here is a slideshow with highlights from the road, accompanied by the ensemble's recording of the Kakhetian table song, Mravalzhamier

Audiences, music enthusiasts, and critics were all amazed by Basiani's performances, echoing the commentary of James Oestrich and Vivien Schweitzer in The New York Times when the ensemble made their American debut at the 2010 Mostly Mozart Festival. Adding to the chorus of praises were these superlative comments in response to Ensemble Basiani's October 2012 performances:
Former WQXR radio personality and current Sarasota, Florida classical music maven June LeBell wrote for The Observer:
This chorus of a dozen singers sports some of the finest vocal musicians I’ve ever heard. Using little vibrato, they produced impeccable pitches that made perfect fifths and even minor seconds seem like the steppes of Central Asia.... Their antiphonal singing, solo melismas and a couple of eerie but effective yodels on an open fifth — strangely reminiscent of European police sirens — added to their special effects throughout their performances of Georgian folksongs. Would that more vocal ensembles had that kind of control and musicianship.
In Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, John Frayne noted in The News Gazette:

The brilliant and stirring contrapuntal interweaving of these voices left a moving and memorable impression on me. A variety of scale was achieved by varying the number of singers delivering the pieces, from trios to songs involving two singers working against a group of five or six, and occasionally everyone got into the act. The results were sometimes akin to Russian liturgical chants or to Renaissance Flemish polyphony. My favorite number was "Shen Khar Venakhi" ("You are a vineyard,") the Iambus of the Holy Virgin. Here the soft singing of the group wove a magical spell.
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clayton Parr remarked on

Basiani’s program captured the essence of the various styles in Georgian folk music in splendid fashion, with the solo voices in particular displaying mastery of these specialized vocal styles.... Their set of six liturgical pieces, all in three parts, demonstrated their mastery of the varied sacred musical traditions.... The spirit, discipline, control and power of tone from Basiani is among the best Georgia has to offer, and the large crowd responded with multiple standing ovations.
David Eden Productions is delighted by this overwhelming response and looks forward to future opportunities to work with Ensemble Basiani and their ever-expanding group of fans in the US.

Major support for Ensemble Basiani's US tour provided by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.