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Fahrenheit 451
a Thriller
by Ray Bradbury

COMPANY : Live Arts Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Belfry Playhouse (inside Norcross Presbyterian Church) [WEBSITE]
ID# 5217

SHOWING : March 02, 2018 - March 17, 2018



Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper ignites. With simple sets and uncomplicated staging, this powerful drama is about the inner struggle of Guy Montag, a fireman. Montag has worked as a civil servant for ten years burning books, but lately he has become increasingly unsure about what he is doing and about his vegetable-like existence. It is not until he meets 16-year-old Clarisse, who is filled with strange ideas, that he is led into a dangerous and highly combustible situation. Now he must choose between continuing his nonexistent existence and risking everything for the right to think.

Recommended for: Ages 13+ due to adult situations and violence. There is also moderate, infrequent language.

Director Meredith Jones
Assistant Director Scott Piehler
Stage Manager Jordan Hermitt
Costumer Andrea Hermitt
Assistant Stage Manager Edward Thompson
Clarisse Karina Balfour
Helen Katie Bates
Mildred Alison Lee Brady
Beatty Andre Eaton
Holden Thomas Huenergardt
Montag Donte Jenkins
Black Troy Jones
St. Exupery JJ Jones
Mrs. Hudson/Aristotle Peggy Marx
Alice Blair Sanders
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Not Absolute Zero
by playgoer
Monday, March 19, 2018
Ray Bradbury’s theatrical adaptation of "Fahrenheit 451" is not as theatrical as it might be. Much of the action is described, rather than seen, and a couple of scenes with interactive TV interchanges consist of people sitting and viewing an unseen screen and responding to voiceover prompts. A production could be much more exciting with a fully realized television wall and with projections of TV/screen versions of the described action, but that would require technical capabilities beyond the means of community theatre and would turn the production into more of a multimedia event than a play.

Live Arts Theatre’s production of "Fahrenheit 451" does well on the technical level. The extensive sound design by Scott Piehler provides all the varied sounds and voices needed to convey the offstage events. The whole would benefit from an original musical score to cover scene transitions with atmospheric music, but that would once again tilt the production towards a multimedia event. Cal Jones’ lighting design is atmospheric, highlighting the action that occurs in a primarily dark, menacing space. Green light effects for the offstage robotic dog are particularly effective. Mere Jones’ set design is spare, with just a bunk and bookshelves on one side and a set of five cubes on the other that can function as a poker table or, when rearranged, as a couch. Lots of books provide the bulk of the props.

Costumes are impressive. Andrea Hermitt has created believable future fireman outfits, and her fashions for Alison Lee Brady as Mildred are stunning in style and variety, with Ms. Brady’s hairstyles enhancing the various looks. Costumes for the outliers of this future dystopian society also work very well.

Mere Jones, assisted by Scott Piehler, has directed the show to keep the action flowing and to drive the dark play to its semi-hopeful conclusion, but the direction can’t overcome the limits of the script and the cast. This is the sort of show that almost demands perfection in all elements, and community theatre can’t supply that. André Eaton gives a stunning performance as Fire Chief Beatty, and Karina Balfour makes Clarisse an intriguing, empathetic figure, but when others deliver lines with flat expression or lose track of them altogether, the play suffers. Peggy Marx does a nice job in both her roles (Mrs. Hudson and Aristotle) and Evan Weisman is nicely cast as an aged professor, but the main role of Guy Montag is filled by Donté Jenkins, who has neither the diction nor the acting chops to carry off the role. He’s not bad; it’s just another instance of pure professionalism needed in every aspect of the production that just isn’t there.

"Fahrenheit 451" is an impressive effort by Live Arts Theatre, but not an impressive achievement. The technical and directorial sides of the production are above average, and Mr. Eaton’s performance and Ms. Hermitt’s costumes are truly memorable, as is the overall atmosphere of the play, but the weaker elements in the production prove a fatal flaw. Mr. Bradbury hasn’t done his well-known story a great favor in dramatizing it, and Live Arts’ production shows up the deficiencies of this theatrical adaptation. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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