Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

The Caucasian Chalk Circle @ Dragon Theater

With two friends in the cast (one playing the biggest role) and a theater whose owner is also a friend, it's hard to say, but I was not thrilled with this production.

Berthold Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a satire about Soviet revolution and the feudal system the revolution was fighting, as seen through the eyes of The People. As written, it has a cast of about 100 people, but with multiple casting Dragon did it with about a dozen.

The director chose to make most of the characters caricatures, so the acting was mostly stilted, and the actors changed personas so often it was hard to follow the plot. This translation of the play, which was originally written in German, is stilted and in British English, which made things even harder to follow.

Everything was on a shoestring. The set was just a partial frame of wooden slats and a rear projector screen showing backgrounds which did not usually add anything. Costumes were simple, people changed characters by changing home-made head pieces (I wouldn't quite call them hats), and something like a cross between a necklace and nunchucks, worn around their necks. Doctors had lab coats and the judge and lawyers had judges robes, but that was about it. Props were no-budget as well - lances made from sticks and aluminum foil, for instance.

There were several children in the cast, who played both child and adult roles. Sometimes amusing but usually WTF.

According to the program. music was composed for the production which was supposed to reflect the spirit of the music of "The Caucas" (sic). It's the Caucasus, sweetie. And your music was as evocative of the Caucasus as a tomahawk is evocative of New Delhi.

The acting ranged from superb to mechanical. Sometimes by the same actor. I could be kind and say maybe the director wanted some of the characters to be represented as automatons (it's not too far-fetched an interpretation for this play), but I think mostly the actors did not always understand their lines, or their meaning within the context of the play.

The play is supposed to poke fun at how convoluted both the old and new Georgian governments were, but this production makes the play appear convoluted instead.

Don't take my word for it. See it for yourself. The Caucasian Chalk Circle plays at the Dragon Theater, 535 Alma Street (near the corner of Alma and Hamilton), Palo Alto Thurs-Sun through August 27. 650-493-2006 or www.dragonproductions.net for tickets.
Tags: review
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