CLOSE TO THE MADDING CROWD
by Byron Toben, October 24, The Charlebois Post
Léa Berry, Lucas Chartier-Dessert and Jeremy Segal (photo credit: Rebecca Croll)
The energetic actors are a tribute to the theatre programs at Dawson and John Abbott...
By Byron Toben Far From the Madding Crowd, a wonderful theatrical version of Thomas Hardy's classic novel, is made truly intimate by the clever staging of this play. Thirteen actors playing twenty one roles in nineteenth century costume emote, sing and dance before - and throng through - the audience, reciting the heightened Victorian language of the day.
The lead role of Bathsheba, the beautiful headstrong heiress who takes over a rich farm is ably handled by Lea Berry, whose ballet training came in handy in a dream sequence.
Kudos to Gabrielle Soskin for the inspired direction by her and Christopher Moore, who also plays a small part…(Ooops! "There are no small parts, only small actors" quipped Stanislavsky) exceedingly well. The energetic actors are a tribute to the theatre programs at Dawson and John Abbott as almost all were recent grads. The two more mature actors in the group, Clive Brewer and Frayne McCarthy, stated in a post show Q & A that they fed off that energy. An audience member, a visiting lady from the Dorset region of England, where the events take place, confirmed that the actors had accurately nailed the accents.
One must not forget the author, Thomas Hardy, whose essence has been preserved in this adaptation by Mark Healy.
The lead role of Bathsheba, the beautiful headstrong heiress who takes over a rich farm is ably handled by Lea Berry, whose ballet training came in handy in a dream sequence. Her three suitors are finely delineated by Jeremy Segal as the stalwart shepherd, Gabriel, Ian Geldart as the rakish Sergeant Troy and Frayne McCarthy as the desperate rich neighbor. Lily Maclean, a rising star with a musical theatre background, gets a chance to be tragic here as Fanny, an abandoned pregnant lover.
Hardy served as an inspiration to D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf who also dealt with themes of class stratification and sensual repression in his sixteen published novels and myriad short stories and poems.
As we approach the annual Movember competition, male readers should check out Hardy's visage for a prize winning moustache model.
Persephone Productions Far From The Madding Crowd continues at the Rialto until October 26 and then moves to Victoria Hall from October 28-30.