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The New Electric Ballroom
a Comedy/Drama
by Enda Walsh

VENUE : Georgia Public Broadcasting (Studio B) [WEBSITE]
ID# 4584

SHOWING : June 05, 2014 - June 15, 2014



What do you get when you cross a rock and roller with a pair of cannery girls? We’re not sure, something smells fishy in this rural village, so drop the needle on that 45 and play that story again. And again. And again!

Little sister Ada wants to hear it one more time. Bad girl Breda begrudgingly obliges. Clara wants her cake and to eat it, too, while Patsy the fishmonger is determined to interrupt with a tale of his own, hopefully one that ends with a lady on his arm.

But things aren’t what they seem in Enda Walsh’s fascinating tale of the night the Roller Royle came to The New Electric Ballroom and took away two sisters’ hearts.

A comic drama deft in its humor and breathtaking in its heartache. With equal parts naturalism and fantasy, Irish playwright Enda Walsh crafts a language that can wound as much as it soothes in this Edinburgh Fringe First award-winning play.

Director Kathleen McManus
Sound Installer Robert Drake
Light Designer Harley Gould
Set Designer Danyale Taylor
Stage Manager Jim Walsh
Ada Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Breda Patti French
Patsy Steven L. Hudson
Clara Holly Stevenson
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Ballroom Magic
by playgoer
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Enda Walsh’s "The New Electric Ballroom" starts off as an impenetrable study of three lugubrious sisters and the fishmonger who regularly drops by. The sisters seem to have a ritual of telling the same stories over and over of their one lost love, which happens to have been the same rock-n-roller that both older sisters had (potential) assignations with. It takes a while, until the second sister tells her story, that we start to get the point. By the time we get to the third, much younger sister, a generational twist is added and a new lost love is uncovered. There is a deep, sad power in the ending.

There’s a lot of humor in the play too. The sisters are each idiosyncratic, and the behavior of middle sister Clara (Holly Stevenson) is comically repetitive, as she asks for coffee cake or tea, or notes lulls in the conversation. Director Kathleen McManus has directed the cast to maximize the humor, while simultaneously maximizing the pathos. It’s all masterfully done.

It helps when you have a cast as talented and hard-working as the people Ms. McManus has to work with. Barbara Cole Uterhardt brings a splendid Irish accent and wonderfully expressive face to her role as the youngest sister, Ada. Steve Hudson brings energy by the barrelful and a pleasing singing voice to his role as fishmonger Patsy. Holly Stevenson brings a whimpering, grudging quality to Clara. Director Kathleen McManus played oldest sister Breda at the performance I saw, and she was sour and powerful (and seemingly word-perfect) in the role.

The set reminded me for all the world of Cinderella’s "own little corner," with a hearth and rustic table, chairs, bench, and hutch that would befit any village cottage for any time in the last several centuries. (Capital City Opera is credited with "set stuff," so set designer Danyale Taylor may actually have pulled pieces from their 2011 production of "Cinderella.") Harley Gould’s lighting design aptly conjures up the present day and the heyday of The New Electric Ballroom. Costumes, credited to five different sources, including individuals Catherine Thomas and Margi Reed, have a grab bag feel, with a good deal of color and variety.

Arís Theatre has inaugurated their first season with a bold, little-known selection. Its ability to showcase the tremendous acting and directing talent of the troupe makes "The New Electric Ballroom" a splendid choice for introducing Arís to the world. As the Gaelic word "Arís" means, "encore!" for the succeeding works of the season. And kudos for the tremendous signage and helpful human guides that made the journey into the bowels of the GPB building a placid adventure, not an exasperating challenge. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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