Friday, April 17, 2009

Aceing the ACT

I am still reveling in the amazing performance I saw last night, at an equally amazing venue. David and I walked into the ACT Theater in downtown Seattle not knowing what to expect. I thought it would be yet another huge theater, where we'd see the outlines of the actors, nothing more. I thought it might even be boring. A play without music and dancing? How can I sit through that? I was thoroughly surprised, and delighted by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The ACT Theater is the most intimate place I've ever been to watch a play. The stage is small, and seats rise around it in a circle. We sat several rows up, but were just several yards from the actors. I could see every expression, innuendo, the violence and drama and passion intoxicatingly real. As Mr. Hyde's rage exploded, I could see sprays of spit. I was frightened of this terrible man with the knife. His counterpart, Dr. Jekyll, was equally disturbing in his madness and denial. The raw emotion in this play gave me shivers. I'd say it was the best acting I've ever see in theater, and it has to be, when you are sitting so close. Like HDTV, but for live theater.

There aren't many props or set changes in the ACT, but the lighting, sound effects, even fog are enough to create the mood. I found myself visualizing the surroundings, and becoming fully immersed in the story, like I was there. I didn't need the fancy decorations, the backgrounds, the music. It was like reading a book, my imagination created the environment.

I loved our theater experience last night. It is something that connects me to humanity; we've been gathering like this to watch each other perform for centuries. I could almost picture this as a stage in London in the 1800's. All that carried the performance was the acting. I am still enthralled by my experience, and am expecting Mr. Hyde to come any minute out of the shadows.

1 comment:

Paula said...

I remember going to see plays in Portland a long time ago at the Artists Repertory Theatre (maybe they are still around?) which was at the time a small venue like that. It was an entirely different experience than the big venues, like the way plays were meant to be viewed. So glad you guys had that experience!