“The Master and Margarita”
Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita,” directed by Phil Cerroni, introduces us to Berlioz (Harrison Denn), Ivan (Edward Wambsganns), and mysterious Woland (Blake Ballard) in 1928 Moscow. Woland prophesies Berlioz’s death, and when it happens moments later, a crazed Ivan accuses Woland of murder, but instead is thrown in an asylum.
Here he meets the Master (Joseph Giallombardo), whose novel about Pontius Pilate (Justin Blan) has driven him to turn his back on reality, including his lover, Margarita (Catherine Bradford). Then Margarita is visited by Korviev (Ande Hawkins), who invites her to be the hostess of Satan’s, or Woland’s, Spring Festival Ball.
After the ordeal, Satan grants Margarita one wish. She ultimately requests that the Master be returned to her. The Master is liberated, and he, in turn, releases Pontius Pilate.
The costumes were impressive, and accurate to the late 20s time-frame. Everything, from Hawkins’ flapper dress to the actors’ simple suits, was put together well.
The cast brought the story to life. Ballard was perfect as Woland. He played the most complex character but succeeded in making his role clear to the audience. Minor characters added entertainment to the plot, as seen in the interactions of Behemoth (Jerick Johnson) and Hawkins’ Korviev.
Caryl Churchill’s “A Number,” directed by Jessie Burke, opens with Salter (Christopher Jameson) meeting with his son Bernard (Michael McDermott) after Bernard has discovered that there are clones of him.
The audience then sees an encounter between Salter and B1, putting dramatic irony into the picture. As the web of lies comes undone, B2 (the son Salter has been living with) realizes that his entire life has been a lie and B1 becomes jealous of the love Salter never showed him as an abused child. B1 kills B2, then kills himself. The last scene contrasts Michael Black, one of the 20 clones of B2, who leads a normal life, with Salter’s pitiful state of self-induced solitude.
McDermott changed characters with ease. Each Bernard had a different dialect, dialogue and set of countenances, making the many versions obviously different. Jameson played his demanding role superbly.
This play well represents the deterioration of the family unit as inflated to the level of cloning. Offering insight into the often-perverted promise of science, it packed a big punch that got the audience thinking about its own place in the grand scheme of things.
“The Pregnant Pause”
In Georges Feydeau’s “The Pregnant Pause,” directed by Tommy Riordon, Hector (Gus Braga Henebry) is a comically weak husband unable to console his pregnant wife, Leonie (Amanda Werley), when she seems about to give birth a month prematurely. Much more assertive are her mother, Mrs. Champrinet (Kate Chiappe), and the midwife, Frau Grossfinger (Madeleine Robb), who isolate Hector during the situation, which turns out to be a false alarm. Hector is then blamed for “not being able to do anything right.” In the end, Hector at last takes charge of his household, beating (figuratively, more or less) everyone into submission as he goes to see his wife.
Each character was high-energy, and their range of interactions, from the strained love of Hector and Leonie to the awkwardness of the Champrinets, was quite funny.
The costumes were simple and the set clean and meticulous. The cast did a great job of seeing the humor in every action. Henebry’s rise from being the man picked on for a potty-seat hat to being the man of his household is funny to watch, while Robb’s performance of Grossfinger commanded the stage every time.