A Touch of the Poet: Artistic Home Presents O'Neill's Family Drama
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The last date listed for A Touch of the Poet was Sunday November 6, 2011 / 3:00pm.
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Four of Anton Chekhov's one-act comedies come to the stage, brought to life by four different theater companies. In The Bear, a landlord challenges an indebted widow to a duel and falls in love with her bravery. The Proposal centers on two neighbors desperate to get married -- if only they could stop arguing. Stage 773, Red Theater, New Millennium Theatre Company and Organic Theater Company will also perform The Wedding and The Anniversary, each in a different style. Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from Bob Armstrong
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Very good production but didn't really like the play. Have a feeling this play was not performed during Eugene O'Neill's lifetime for different reasons than the autobiographical Long Day's Journey: O'Neill knew there was something missing.
Some "touches" are a somewhat weary retreading of Long Day's Journey, which was written two years earlier: a main character's turning on a hairpin from calm to vicious, reliance on alcohol consumption to trigger emotional outpourings and comic relief, and the insistence on a rigidly-square-shaped set to suggest the number four and the imperfect maturity of the male protagonist, a la Oedipus at the base of Cithaeron (in Poet the "real" American aristocrat remains unseen upstairs, at the King-identified apex of the family's little pyramid. Okay, we get it). Main imperfection O'Neill must have sensed is a sudden personality change in one of the characters near the end. The more the characters protract the arguments in this story the less likeable they become. The young are almost as unpleasant as the old because, presumably, they were going to be the old characters whenever the sequel to this first chapter of the Melody family history would be written. Whether or not there's an artistic point here that satisfies O'Neill, there's little commercial angle to make people watch, only historical curiosity.
Acting consistently good, especially strong identity anchored in senior Melody patriarch, who even bears physical resemblance to some great character actors of the past (Donald Crisp? Anthony Quayle?). Period set quite plausible but too new-looking: should be scruffed up a little, maybe even dirtied up.
This play was somewhere on my "I always meant to see that" list, so for that reason I'm glad I did. Give company credit for attempting problematical work.
Seating is a bit cramped, and I notice audience members, especially women, have tendency to sit with legs crossed, so steel your back for attacks from the rear with lots of pointy shoes. I just can't imagine how so many people are so inconsiderate of the body space of others in a theatre setting.
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Years ago I had attended a production of this play starring Denholm Elliott
I then saw Brian Dennehy at Goodman, but for my money Frank Nall's portrayal of Con Melody was the very best. He did not miss anything in giving us a man so flawed and...continued