Another in a Series of Unfortunate Events at Brand Park

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater
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I applaud Dean Productions for their worthy program to provide children and young adults battling cancer with health-encouraging dramatic instruction and performance, and I’m glad that the city of Glendale has rewarded them with the opportunity to bring live theatre out to the park.  But I will be the first person to decry the paucity of funding for this plucky group.

Their latest brave outing (there is a performance every year) brings a series of Chekhov’s one-act comedies to Glendale residents. One glance, however, lets us know that we must be indulgent, for the production is put together with a few random chairs and a table, cast-off looking costumes, no backdrop, platform, or any other sign of set-building.  What’s more, Cassie Clark, Lilja Rose Michaud, Sierra Parsons and Madison Young, the four determined young performers that director Rebecca Lynne has assembled, have been asked to play a number of parts in each of five plays.  Unfortunately their skills and their understanding of Chekhov’s subversive humor break down from the effort. Luckily, a host of well-wishers were on hand for the opening weekend, which began with those 25 mile-an-hour winds that you may remember.

The performances were more coherent, if still clueless the following day, when the girls’ vocal skills were more in evidence.  Reaching to be heard, their squeaks further belied the realism and, as I said, underground humor that Chekhov’s writing demands.

We should note the contributions of lighting designer Joshua Winkler, whose lighting towers allowed for a semblance of playing space; Jeremy Leung’s sound for helping the actors to be heard in the vast park; and stage managers Edward Fernandez and Hannah Trujillo for wrangling the whole thing.

I wish that the group had been given the courtesy to use the mostly unused Brand Park concert-hall with its proper acoustics, thus providing an opportunity to surround the actors with the proper tools. Shame on the city of Glendale for such measly support.

Chekhov One-Acts play at Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm through April 27th , outdoors at Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain Ave., Glendale, CA 91201.  The event is free. Go to www.deanproductionstheatre.com for reservations, but walk-ins are welcome.