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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

a World Premiere
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Rebecca Gilman from the Novel by Carson McCullers

COMPANY : Alliance Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Woodruff Art Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 1224

SHOWING : March 23, 2005 - April 24, 2005

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Carson McCuller's Classic novel of Small-Town Georgia comes to the Alliance Stage in this World Premiere Production.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Self-Absorption
by Dedalus
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
4.0
I found the Alliance’s World-Premiere production of “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” to be one of the most beautiful and moving productions I’ve seen in a long time. I admit to having high expectations – I loved the 1968 film, which makes me cry every time I see it. Rebecca Gilman’s adaptation of the Carson McCullers novel turns out to be equally moving and effective.

To summarize, a deaf mute man named John Singer comes to a small Georgia town in 1938. He befriends a group of people who are able to tell him things they can’t tell anyone else. Joy and tragedy come to some of them, and all of them are surprised when a tragedy comes to John himself, making them realize how little they really knew him.

This story is staged on a very simple set, a windowed wall curving onto a floor (much like the “Agnes of God” set). Many scenes flow on and off, set by a few pieces of furniture and a remarkably prodigious lighting design. Visually, the production is beautiful, leafy forests giving way to cold bedrooms and hostile cityscapes, ending with a stunning image copied directly from Edward Hopper, evoking all the lonesome Americana exhibited by that artist. Projections and wide palettes of color build a visual look that awes without overpowering.

This summary cannot possible do justice to the effect of this production. The first act seems a bit muddled, as most of the actors double roles and look similar – you need a scorecard to keep straight who’s who – but once everything is set, the scenes and characters all combine in a way that truly evokes a novel’s epic scope using the basic tools of a few actors and a few props.

And the actors are all wonderful. As John Singer, Henry Stram is excellent. Keeping his own attitudes towards the characters to himself, he nevertheless assures them (and us) that he is a person who can be trusted and liked, and makes the conclusion all the more moving, since he is never able to share his own pain with his new friends. (Coincidentally, Mr. Stram guest-starred on a “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” repeat last Saturday night.) As young Mick Kelly, Julie Jesnick has all the passionate self-absorption of the teenager she plays, bringing a ball of energy to every scene she plays.

To be sure, all the characters are defined by self-absorption, even John Singer. But that’s the point. In the final analysis, we need each other to get through the day, we rely on each other to mend our broken bodies and hopes. But, at the end of the day, we all must sleep alone with our dreams.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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