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Postmortem
a Thriller
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Ken Ludwig

COMPANY : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 1396

SHOWING : October 07, 2005 - November 12, 2005

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

In 1922, the era of the flapper and bathtub gin, actor William Gillette carved himself a propitious theater career portraying Sherlock Holmes. With his profits, Gillette built a medieval castle on a bluff over looking the Connecticut River and loved to invite his fellow cast members for relaxing weekends in the country. However, on the weekend in question, Gillette has an ulterior motive: he believes one of his guests murdered his beloved fiancée exactly one year earlier and he intends to find out just who it was, a la Sherlock Holmes!


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Jason Meinhardt
Assistant Director Greg Fitzgerald
Technical Operator Melissa Goodfellow
May Dison Gigi Boudouani
Lilly Bobbie Elzey
Marion Vicki Kaeberlein
Louise Paradine Brandy Meinhardt
William Gillette Brink Miller
Bobby Carlysle Sean Patrick O'Rourke
Leo Lane Teilhaber
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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A Fun Evening At The Theatre!
by line!
Monday, October 31, 2005
4.0
CAVEATS: I am an actor (OK, I would classify myself as an actor. You can draw your own conclusions when you see me in something.) I am not involved in this production; however I do know some of the folks involved, which means I am prone to be kind. However, if I feel something could be better, I will say so! My goal in this review is to support the efforts of those involved and to offer constructive criticism. Sorry for the length of this review, but I also wanted to be thorough. Actors are listed in the same order as they are on this website (alphabetical by last name). Am I an expert on every topic here? Absolutely not! But I am an audience member, and deserve respect for that. With that being said, in my opinion, here is “The Good Stuff” and “What Could Be Better” about Postmortem…

THE STORY:
THE GOOD STUFF: An interesting “whodoneit” with an interesting set of characters in an interesting setting with a nice little surprise ending! Lots of secrets, suspense and surprises!
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Not groundbreaking, but it is good solid entertainment.

THE SET:
THE GOOD STUFF: We need a replica of the Gillette Castle?! On our budget?! The set design did a commendable job of creating the ambiance of the Gillette Castle with painted flats. The set decoration, although somewhat sparse, was good and added to the castle “flavor”. The set “tricks” (spoiler alert!) of a hidden doorway and a hidden bar worked well and added a physical touch of secrets and suspense which enhanced the performance. The “Kudzu Kolumn” was resplendent in its wood motif.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: The set details (fireplace, stairs, landing, etc.) could have been done differently to add a sense of grandeur.

THE LIGHTS/SOUND/SPECIAL EFFECTS:
THE GOOD STUFF: This was a complex show with numerous sound and light cues and a few special effects thrown in. As we all know, that can be an accident looking for someplace to happen! Not for this bunch! All the cues were executed smoothly and added a layer of suspense and the supernatural. Kudos to the techies!
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: The sound quality of the recorded sounds could have been better. They were somewhat noisy and had a reverb like effect that made them less realistic.

THE COSTUMES:
THE GOOD STUFF: The costumes were both period, and character, appropriate. They did what they are supposed to; tell the audience about the time period and the personality of the characters wearing them.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Aunt Lily’s dress in the “help me get out of this dress” scene: The dress barely hung from her shoulders and would have fallen off instantly if she had merely shrugged! Her needing help with it was not believable.

THE MAKEUP:
THE GOOD STUFF: There were no major make up effects needed for this play except for the (spoiler alert!) wig, sideburns and moustache worn by Macready/Gillette. Those served their purpose appropriately by being a bit “over the top”. The female cast members wore normal (not stage) makeup which looked fine. It appeared that Brink was the only male member of the cast wearing stage makeup. Kudzu is a very intimate environment and full blown stage makeup on men does not always work well there. Brink’s makeup and hair color, however, helped reinforce his character as an “Actor”.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Was Brink the only male wearing makeup intentional?

THE ACTORS:
Mae Dison/ Gigi Boudouani
THE GOOD STUFF: Gigi’s portrayal of wide-eyed innocence had the audience wanting to be her protector from the very beginning of the show. She did a wonderful job of embodying the small town girl in awe of her new found surroundings.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Voice was sometimes so soft you couldn’t hear what was being said and vibrato tends to blur the words. Needs to add variety to use of hands (re: too frequent clutching of dress)

Lily/ Bobbie Elzey
THE GOOD STUFF: I wish I had an Aunt Lily like Bobbie! She brings grace, taste and style to a relatively small part. Bobbie’s portrayal provides kindness, rationality and selflessness to these otherwise self-centered characters. She is totally believable in the part and has a wonderfully warm stage presence here.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Could be taller. (Sorry but that’s all I could come up with.)

Marion/ Vicky Kaeberlein
THE GOOD STUFF: Vicky’s delivery and physicality onstage demonstrate her total grasp of character. Her confident stage presence is evident from the moment she appears. Confident! Not arrogant! She is a delight to watch! Vicky’s interplay with Leo/Lane is an effective means of showing the audience “who wears the pants” in their relationship. Another relatively small part performed with professional style and skill.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: More use of movement and body to enhance dialogue.

Louise Paradine/ Brandy Meinhardt
THE GOOD STUFF: Brandy’s portrayal of a (spoiler alert!) psychotic, murdering lesbian took me by surprise. Her somewhat vague and reserved portrayal allowed the audience to “fill in the blanks” about her character. Is she insane? Depressed? Cunning? A victim? A victimizer? The audience is never quite sure, which makes her portrayal choices excellent for this role, and enhances the suspense of the production.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: When it came time to be psychotic, could have been more forceful and “out there”.

William Gillette/ Brink Miller
THE GOOD STUFF: Brink is a fabulous actor! And he is a more fabulous actor when he is portraying an actor! His delivery is dramatic and his stage presence is commanding. When he is onstage, the audience can’t take their eyes off of him. He brings playfulness to his portrayal of Gillette, which adds a light layer to an otherwise serious undertaking. Watching Brink having fun is great fun!
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Need to add variety to use of hands (re: frequently clenched at side

Bobby Carlysle/ Sean Patrick O’Rourke
THE GOOD STUFF: Sean’s energy, presence and confidence onstage make him a stand-out among this talented cast. He convincingly portrays the fun loving aspects of his character and his interaction with the other actors is solid and believable.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Needs a better understanding of his character’s deeper insecurities (always loses the girl to “the lead”). Anger seems to come on too strong and too fast.

Leo/ Lane Teilhaber
THE GOOD STUFF: Lane’s portrayal of the perennial “second banana” that is not trusted or respected by his wife is so convincing… I wonder if he is like that in real life! He creates a lovable mensch that the audience truly feels sorry for. He is a hero in disguise. Is a good disguise, but his heroism shines through!
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Delivery could be louder with better diction.

THE DIRECTOR:
Jason Meinhardt
THE GOOD STUFF: In the end, what the audience sees is the “director’s vision” of the story. This production of Postmortem is a remarkable example of “building a mountain from a little bit of clay”! With the complexity of the story, the effects, props, and the limited resources available, the potential for failure of this production was high. Mysteries are hard to do. This director’s vision is skillful and the production is done with care. He is mindful of both the story and the performance, and shows respect for both. That’s what makes this one a success!
WHAT COULD BE BETTER: Some of the actors occasionally “stand and deliver” their dialogue. The séance scene could be staged differently to allow the audience to see the faces of both Mae and Louise, instead of seeing Mae’s back and Louise’s face.

CONCLUSION :
A fun evening at the theatre! Good solid entertainment! This is a talented cast in an interesting story that is done well. They keep the audience guessing until the very end! That’s THE GOOD STUFF! WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

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