Monday, December 19, 2016

Play Review: Sleeping Beauty at Synetic Theater

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One of Synetic Theater's claim to fame is that they perform a lot of silent plays. This version of Sleeping Beauty had no dialogue, but instead uses exaggerated movements from the actors to reveal what's going on.

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The set for this play was incredible! There were multiple curtains hanging from the ceiling, and images were projected onto them (which is a complete other component to the play that most performances don't need to have!). The curtains performed many functions: they represented trees and waterfalls in the woods; they were the sky full of lightening from the witch's wrath; they are obstacles keeping the prince from saving the princess (like in the picture above). It was amazing to watch the set transform. The set was a character itself!

The play also had a curtain in the back used to make shadows, which I thought was clever.
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The actors did a great job. Irina Tsikurishvili, the founding choreographer of the theater and the wife of the founding artistic director, played the witch. She is very dynamic and full of energy, and she was definitely scary when she was mad!

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I also thought the fairies were a lot of fun. Francesca Blume, Kathy Gordon, and Emily Whitworth (I think that's the order in picture above, left to right) were the fairies, and they were quite fun. They brought slapstick comedy to the show, bumping into one another and generally being silly. I believe Gordon played the orange fairy, who was the most emotive. Their costumes were fun and eclectic, and I liked that the play brought in fun moments from the Disney version, like when the fairies are putting together a birthday party for Briar Rose (the name of the princess) and keep changing things different colors (see below; GIF found here).


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I have seen Zana Gankhuyag (the prince) in several of Synetic's productions. He's very good, but it was distracting to watch him as a blonde (as if we couldn't believe he was the witch's son without them having the same hair color...). I think when I saw him in this play his hair was dyed, but in one show he must have worn a wig (like in the photo above). Costumes can make or break a character, and with the light hair, I just wasn't buying it.

And I have to say that Eliza Smith looks so young as the princess Briar Rose. I actually thought it was a child playing the role! Her petite frame and sweet face give her the appearance of an eleven year-old girl. I couldn't get past it! So I never bought the romantic part of the story in this show. 

Like most of Synetic's plays, I enjoyed the show, but I was not overwhelmed. And I usually fall asleep for at least a little bit. This was only a 90 minute play (with no intermission), but it easily could have been made shorter. Some scenes were dragged out, especially near the end when the prince is trying to save Briar Rose; we all know he's going to save her, so we don't need to watch ten minutes (or more!) of him struggling to get to her. So, not Synetic's best, but not a waste of time if you do decide to go.

Read another article about this play from the Washington Post.

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