Comedy is hard to make come alive on a stage, and the comedy of Woody Allen can be especially difficult. You can’t pigeonhole the man who many believe, as do I, is a genius filmmaker.
He is widely praised for his films, he is a curiosity for his sometimes bizarre personal life and he is a test for anyone to either reanalyze or make come alive.
And it has proved very difficult for the cast at Soulstice Theatre to get a handle on Allen’s play "God," which opened Friday night.
This may well be a very funny play, somewhere. But the one I saw Friday night left me almost totally without so much as a grin, much less an outright laugh.
The story of this play is odd. Two ancient Greeks – Hepatitis, a playwright, and Diabetes, an actor – are searching for an ending to a play that is going to be in a contest.
From there, the play wanders through an unconnected series of scenes and events. This is a very complex play, difficult to understand and hard to appreciate. Some people think it’s Allen’s take on the big questions of life, including the meaning of God.
A play like this needs precision from a director and from the cast. That precision was significantly missing Friday night.
The play was dotted with references to Milwaukee, with things like Cudahy, St. Francis, Ma Fischer’s, Jo-Cat’s and Wisconsin Avenue drizzled throughout the production, an obvious attempt to rip laughs out of an audience. To me, they were cheap and sophomoric.
Stephanie Graham, making her directorial debut with this play, got virtually no help from the cast.
The two main characters, Hepatitis played by Tim Kietzman and Diabetes, played by Joe Dolan, gave new meaning to the word "overacting."
Both of them monopolized the early part of this play, and the main thing that struck me was how unconnected to anything their arms were. Both men were guilty.
No matter what the script had them say, no matter where they were standing, every line seemed to be accompanied by two arms, stre…Read more...