Reviews - Fringe 2009

Dante

By Tom Mackan
Published July 24, 2009

By Kaitlin Phillips
Directed by Ben Esler
Featuring: Kristan Brown, Forrest Seamons, Caitlin Goldie

Let us in the beginning here strongly recommend that you see this play before it leaves the Fringe Festival. It plays at Aquarius at 10:30 pm tonight, Friday, July 24, on Saturday at 7:30 pm, and finally on Sunday, at 12 N. All performances are in the studio space at Theatre Aquarius.

You won't be rolling in the aisles; you won't be emotionally ripped, either. You will be lifted and enriched by its smart writing, crisp direction, and by three very highly-trained and fully prepared performances by its three actors.

Dante Alighieri. Thirteenth century Italian poet, author of The Divine Comedy and The Inferno, and La Vita Nuova.

Spoiler alert! This is not a costume drama set in the lush parlours of Mediaeval Tuscany. You will not hear measured and archaic speech, nor watch postured performers with conical headdress, or tights, and flowing sleeves. Sorry. Just so as you're warned.

Dante, alive but desperately poor, lives with Laura. They are 21st century American urbanites. She works to pay the rent, he writes. Laura has taken one of his works, The Inferno, to a publisher.

An entertainment agent is intrigued and contact is made. And the play unfolds in intriguing layers of time. As protagonist, Laura is played by Kristan Brown, and actor with immense variety. She brings stunning credibility to the character who battles to make herself vital and needed.

Our Dante is performed by Forrest Seamons in subtle underplay, a man seemingly out a time and place, someone from the past and fending off the relentless demands of the present.

Caitlin Goldie plays Beatrice Portinari as the opportunity Laura seeks to rescue her and stimulate their lives. Goldie performs with perfect control, her voice and presence contained and focused, an icy Beatrice returned from the 13th century.

Among some fine productions being given at the Hamilton Fringe this season, this is decidedly a rare jewel in the collection and should not be ignored.

TNgM

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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