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"Never Too Late: Dinner Theatre," October 10-19, Ritz Theatre of Newberry at Steven W's Downtown Bistro," 276-6264.
"King Lear," October 15-25, SC Shakespeare Company at Finlay Park, 787-2273.
"The Shape of Things," October 16-26, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"The Other Place," October 17 - November 1, Trustus Side Door Theatre, 254-9732.
"The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf," October 24-26, Columbia Children's Theatre YouTheatre, 691-4548.
"The Dining Room," November 6-9, Workshop Theatre, 799-6551.
"Cheaper By the Dozen," November 7-16, Village Square Theatre, 359-1436.
"Much Ado About Nothing," November 8-17, Ritz Theatre of Newberry, 924-7158.
"White Christmas," November 14 - December 7, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
"Guys & Dolls Jr.," November 14-16, Columbia Children's Theatre YouTheatre, 691-4548.
"Our Town," November 14-22, USC Longstreet Theatre.
"Comedy of Errors," November 14-23, Ritz Theatre of Newberry, 276-6264.
"The Women of Lockerbie," November 20-23, USC Lab Theatre.
"A Christmas Carol," November 21 - December 20, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"Christmas in Lexington," December 5-14, Village Square Theatre, 359-1436.
"Jack Frost," December 5-14, Columbia Children's Theatre, 691-4548.
"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," December 11-21, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"A Very Second Samuel Christmas," December 12-20, On Stage Productions, 351-6751.
Press Releases for Current Shows
Camden Community Theatre
Center Stage Youth Theatre
Chapin Theatre Company
Columbia Children's Theatre
On Stage Productions
Ritz Theatre of Newberry
SC Shakespeare Company
Stage 5 Theatre
Sumter Little Theatre
Village Square Theatre
Review by August Krickel.
Theatre South Carolina's Ajax in Iraq, running through Oct. 11 in USC's Longstreet Theatre, is as good a piece of ensemble acting and as professionally and proficiently staged a production as I've seen in 20 years or more. While playwright Ellen McLaughlin's clever mashup of classical and modern themes is often but not always successful, and while her script sometimes verges on preachiness, the commitment by director Peter Duffy and his cast to convey the emotions and experiences of men and women at war is outstanding.
A long one-act running
approximately 90 minutes (with no intermission), Ajax in Iraq juxtaposes
the tragedy of the mythical hero Ajax, taken directly from the play by
Sophocles, with the plight of A.J., a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq. Using
the Trojan War as a metaphor isn't new. James Joyce patterned Ulysses
after the adventures of Odysseus, poet Allen Tate wrote Aeneas at Washington
(a possible inspiration for this play's title) as a lament on modernism during
the Depression era, and even television's Hercules - The Legendary Journeys depicted
mentioned the ensemble acting. The performance begins with modern soldiers on
patrol, functioning like a Greek chorus, with each actor speaking in turn,
expressing the conflicting thoughts and emotions that troops feel. The play is
staged in the round, allowing each soldier to move around the stark set in
semi-darkness, connecting with a different portion of the audience with each
line. As these are representative of internal monologues - and reportedly based
on interviews with actual veterans - there is no direct interaction among the
cast, meaning that each performer has to take his or her cue solely from the
sound of the previous actor's voice in the dark. There are no microphones, and
everyone can be heard clearly, even when the actors occasionally speak in
unison like an actual Greek chorus. With the configuration of
Longstreet's seating, they perform within inches of the first row, and never
break character. The age-appropriate cast perfectly captures the
frustration of grunts on the front lines, wanting to do a good job, but unclear
on why they are fighting to protect a foreign people who don't want or
appreciate the protection. "Are they crazy?" one asks, with the
obvious realization "Are we crazy?" One soldier observes
that the troops ironically find themselves in a war to defend someone's freedom
to say they disagree with the war; another complains that when people demand to
"Bring the Troops Home," they ignore the fate of those who are left
Also deserving of praise
are Raven Massey as a soldier who appears to have hardened her heart against
what she calls the "pity party" of troops suffering from their
experiences in combat, and Rebecca Shrom, Alissa Holmes and Grace Stewart, who
along with Massey comprise a believable barracks-poker-game foursome, bantering
with gritty battlefield humor as soldiers have from the dawn of time. Jay
Fernandes, light years away from his portrayal of
values for this show are extremely high. Choreographer Terrance Henderson has
devised a nightmarish scene of surreal motion for the ensemble in which they
wordlessly express anger through natural movement, as we hear the band
Disturbed's song "Down with the Sickness." Scenic designer Andy Mills
has created a bare stage representing the map of
As a child, reading a Classics Illustrated Comics version of The Iliad, I was struck by how impossible it seemed for a war to last 10 years, or that military leaders might be hamstrung by personality clashes or power struggles. Ah, the naiveté of youth! Accordingly, though, this may be the first review of a gripping drama about tragic and controversial themes where the critic has once acted out the title character's adventures with toy soldiers. Here, the portrayers of both protagonists of the play succeed, but the true stars of the show are the depth of talent among the ensemble, all undergraduates, and the vision of director Peter Duffy. I have never seen this faculty member's work previously, as he has concentrated primarily on developing the department's Master of Arts in Teaching program. Duffy has created an extraordinary piece of work, one which tackles important issues while allowing his young actors to flex their dramatic muscles, and I look forward to whatever he has in store next.
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