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a New Play
by Sean Gaffney

VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 453

SHOWING : April 18, 2002 - May 12, 2002



What happens when Dr. Moreau seeks to change the lines between man and beast, between man and God? Come see "Moreau" and find out. Based on "The Island of Dr. Moreau" by H.G. Wells

Writer Sean Gaffney
Director Tony Brown
Stage Manager Rachel Ginzberg
Production Design Bart McGeehon
Production Manager Tarsha Whitaker
Dr. Moreau Pierre Brulatour
Stevens, Davies, Native, Andrew Joey Cleary
Eden Melissa DaPonte
Edward Prendick Larry Davis
Bogle, Dr. 3 Suehyla El-Attar
Dr. Montgomery Shawn Law
Simien Howard Liang
Taurus, Dr. 2 Kyle Price
M'Ling Nancy Riggs
Kate, sailor Anna Whitson
Eden, Sailor, Native Ami Wilson
Helmar, Sayer, Jeremy, Dr. 1 Mark Wilson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Re-post from Sci-fi Dimensions
by Myreview
Wednesday, May 8, 2002
Art Within has proven you can produce a play of exceptional quality on a limited budget. Some scraps of tattered burlap, a stage made of rough boards, and a little mist are all they need to suggest rustic existence on a tropical island. The beast-people's costumes and makeup are simple, but effective enough to convey their non-human natures.

Where the play really shines is in writer Sean Gaffney's dramatic exploration of disturbing issues, and in the actors' performances. A surprising amount of clever humor enables the audience to absorb what would otherwise be an extremely morose tale. During scene transitions, a lone spotlight just off-stage illuminates Moreau or Prendick, who deliver excellent soliloquies on the natures of man, God, science and morality. Moreau attempts to justify himself as a seeker who is not afraid to pursue painful or seemingly ugly truths, while Prendick continues to struggle with his own beliefs and preconceptions - and to question his very sanity!

Larry Davis is very good as the fastidious, unsure Prendick, as is Anna Whitson as Kate. But Pierre Brulatour and Shawn Law are standouts as Moreau and Montgomery. Brulatour is particularly impressive as the arrogant, baritone Moreau, decked out in a black nehru jacket. Another notable performance is by Melissa DaPonte in her cameo as Eden, an experiment that Moreau is forced to kill. At eleven years old, she stepped in with only a few days' notice when the original cast member was injured, learning all her lines to perfection!

No beast is without its warts. The initial scenes, detailing Prendick's nautical mishaps, are a bit clunky and seemingly unnecessary. The play could easily have begun with Prendick's rescue by Montgomery without subtracting anything from the story. Also, the cast deliver their lines in a variety of affected British accents - the result is initially uneven, but their diction becomes more comfortable during the performance.

Sean Gaffney's adaptation holds very close to the original Wells novel, with some notable departures. The puma character receives considerable emphasis, creating a Jehovah/Lucifer conflict between Moreau/Kate that didn't exist in the book. And there are some fairly overt Biblical discussions that illuminate some of the philosophical themes, but have no basis in Wells' work. (Art Within is, in fact, an organization that seeks to offer entertainment from a "Christian perspective".) Regardless, this adaptation of Moreau is captivating and thought-provoking, and certainly not a blatant sermon-in-disguise.

Atlanta theatre company Art Within has tackled the disturbing H.G. Wells classic and proven that it is as relevant today as it was a hundred years ago. With cloning, genetic engineering and stem cell research making headlines, the dire warnings about pushing science beyond our ability to control it are as important as ever. Playwright Sean Gaffney doesn't shy away from the big questions. What separates humans from animals? Who can say when the search for knowledge goes beyond mere brashness and into insanity? Should science do something just because it can?

The play leaves us with no easy solutions. Was Moreau wrong to create a new humanity? Or was he only wrong in treating it as property once it displayed a will of its own? Did the beast-people really know right from wrong, or were they merely mimicking moral behavior? Moreau lets the audience decide - no doubt there were enthusiastic discussions on many a drive home!

Animal Schtick
by Dedalus
Monday, May 6, 2002
Art Within's production of "Moreau" (Sean Gaffney's adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel) has moments of inspiration and beauty. Unfortunately, it also has many more moments of woodenness, over-acting, under-acting, and cliche.

The story of "Moreau," like "Frankenstein" before it, is thematically ambiguous -- some say it is about the dangers inherent in blurring the line between "God" and "Man." Others say it is about the responsibility creators have towards their creations. Frankly, both works sustain both themes.

I was glad to see that Mr. Gaffney's adaptation was more on the side of the "Nature/Nurture" argument -- a character says that the problem with Dr. Moreau's creatures is that they "had no mother."

A big problem with this particular story, though, is that anyone having passed high school biology knows that Dr. Moreau's methods are bogus -- that they're merely the pretext for the plot and themes. It is a fatal mis-step that Mr. Gaffney chose to explicitly describe Dr. Moreau's "technique." It absolutely shatters any "willing suspension of disbelief" we may have had.

As to the problems of this particular production, the chief culprit is Pierre Brulator's performance in the title role. Rather than show us the gradual descent of a man obsessed, Mr. Brulator chooses Schtick -- he attempts to show madness rather than obsession, and pitches the emotion at such a high level from the start, that there is no where for this performance to go. This is a shame, because two other performers, Larry Davis in the main role of Edward Pendrick, and Anna Whitson as the Puma/Human Kate, are both quite good.

Also coming across as mere "schtick" are the performances of the actors playing the other animal/human hybrids. Although they all have one or two good moments, it is obvious that little research was put into the mannerisms characteristic of their animal selves (even Ms. Whitson tended to be more cat-like than puma-like, but this is a valid choice -- her character is farther from her "animal" roots than the others). The actors all used the same gestures and tics, and gave no indication of their genetic source. And the live "animal sounds" heard throughout were limited to what can be heard from the soundtrack of a bad "Tarzan" movie, rather than from any realistic source.

The direction, too, tended towards the tried and tried-too-often. "Freeze Frames" whenever there was a killing proved more distracting than effective. Scene changes were often too long and performed in full audience view by the actors out-of-character.

All-in-all, this production struck me as having great potential, but falling short. A little more research, a little more imagination, and a little more rehearsal could have made all the difference.



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