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Looking Through A Shattered Window.

March 27, 2013

Fragments_Of_Oscar_Wilde_1021_GIF16_FINALFragments of Oscar Wilde tackles several of Oscar Wilde’s works; shatters them and proceeds to rearrange them into a beautiful pattern. The show is composed of scenes from several of Wilde’s lesser-known or incomplete works.

The show opens with the Courtisane(Anastasia Charalambous) from “La Sainte Courtisane” reading to her lovers a selection of Oscar Wilde. A Geisha(Natalie Hyde) dances across the room in parallel to the reading as tiny origami cranes fly in the window. As the Courtisane exits the stage her wrappings gracefully fall away for a brief glimpse of nudity. The stage fades to black.FragmentsOfOscarWilde@ZJU_PIC_1

The next scene finds Basil(Tyler McAuliffe) from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” explaining to Lord Henry(Taylor Solomon) why he cannot bare to part with his latest work. Moving on we see opening scenes from “A Florentine Tragedy”, “The Nightingale and the Rose”, and “Salome”. The show circles back through fragments of each of story. Arranging them in an arc from story to story. The effect is somewhat muted but clear; if the previous scene ends slow the successive scene starts slow building up in intensity.

FragmentsOfOscarWilde@ZJU_PIC_3Vanessa Cate has done a marvelous job adapting similar stories; taking them apart and weaving them together into a complete picture. She was able to take the highest points of emotion from each story; find similar arcs and link them. The stage direction and use of space is one of the reasons why I continue returning to Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group. In ‘The Nightingale…’ when the Nightingale(Natalie Hyde) and Rose Tree(Stephanie Giles) speak you get the sense they are having an eye to eye conversation. Their gestures and mannerisms are as if they are speaking directly to one another. They are facing the audience the entire time; this has the effect of bringing you into their personal conversation making you a participant. Taking a performance on a small stage and making it feel personal rather than cramped is a sign of not only good direction but acting as well.

FragmentsOfOscarWilde@ZJU_PIC_11As a frequent guest at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group it’s always a pleasure to see familiar faces appear in new roles. Timothy Alonso, who played the Student was brilliant. He has a commanding stage presence that holds your attention from the moment you see him until his scene ends. When his heart is broken you see it painted across his entire body, his voice trembles his gestures slow ever slightly. Taylor Solomon, portrays Lord Henry as a devious hedonist. She could tempt the Angels to sin with how she describes physical pleasures. She puts her entire soul into her performance, you feel the withheld ecstasy in her gestures. Bianca as played by Stephanie Giles is a mixture of emotions. She is submissive to her husband, yet controls him with her subtle suggestions and the position of her body. She finds herself both ugly in the eyes of her husband and beautiful in the eyes of her lover. For Stephanie to convey conflicting emotions at the same time, it was a treat to watch.

Unfortunately, there were a few sour notes. Lines that didn’t match the body position, others delivered flat without emotion, and even a character, Prince Guido Bardi(Gavin Fonseca) stronger than the actor portraying him. The majority of these appear to be from a new cast not yet comfortable working together. I am confident these issues will be worked out as the show progresses.

All in all Fragments of Oscar Wilde was an inspirational re-weaving of an artists’ genius. If you’re a fan of Oscar Wilde you definitely need to see this adaptation of his lesser-known works. If you’ve never heard of Oscar Wilde, this is a marvelous introduction to the man.

 

FragmentsOfOscarWilde@ZJU_PIC_9

Fragments of Oscar Wilde(Written by Oscar Wilde)(Adapted and Directed by Vanessa Cate) runs Saturdays at 8:30 PM through May 18.

For more information please visit:

www.zombiejoes.com

All Photos Credit: Vanessa Cate

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