Web Exclusive: Thoughts on Theatre

By Montague Gammon III

For two local theatres, the venues themselves truly set the stage for an all-encompassing theatre experience.

The taut, three-character, viscerally intense drama, Agnes of God, is perfect for Norfolk's The Venue on 35th, which can be characterized as Hampton Roads' intimate, bold, and unjustly-under-the-radar bastion of theatrical innovation.

Calling John Pielmeier's 1979 script, the story of a young woman accused of murdering her newborn child oversimplifies this highly theatrical, gut-wrenching drama.

The play is dominated by conflict between two women: the Mother Superior of the convent where the child was found, and the court appointed psychiatrist investigating the young mother's sanity. Both carry prejudices, and an individual agenda that threaten to submerge their professional duties.

Agnes, the purported mother and killer, is neither a full-fledged nun nor close to psychologically mature. She maintains that she has no memory of giving birth, or even of having sex, which introduces the possibility that this was a virgin birth.

Agnes of God is being directed by Phillip Odango, whose previous work puts him at the forefront of local directors for innovation, talent and daring. His involvement makes the already interesting Agnes especially worthy of attention.

Agnes of God will continue playing at The Venue on 35th through Jan. 29. This show is a must see so reservations are strongly recommended. The Venue on 35th is located at 631 35th Street in Norfolk. Visit www.venue-35.com for information on upcoming shows and special events.

In keeping with the subject of plays appropriate to venues, folks at The Palace Theatre in Cape Charles could not have produced a more appropriately titled script than The Importance of Being Earnest. This Oscar Wilde play is a light-hearted frolic about romance among the late-Victorian English aristocracy.

There could hardly be a more earnest troupe of players than the hard working amateurs who took the stage at a recent run of this classic and witty comedy.

One can assume the standing ovation at a recent performance was not unique, but rather an indication of the audience's sincere—one may even say, earnest—appreciation of both play and players.

The women's costumes were quite lovely, the men's outfits handsome, and the sets several cuts above scenery in lots of shows—but above all, it was the enjoyment of the performers, crew and the audience, linked in enthusiasm, that mattered.

The Palace Theatre, and parent organization Arts Enter Cape Charles, presents and produces a host of shows and events, offers classes and runs an arts gallery. For example, on January 22 Ladies and the King, a tribute to Elvis, Patsy Kline and Brenda Lee, went to stage. The Mullins Trio offers a truly classical prelude to Valentine's Day, with Schubert's B-flat major piano trio Op. 99 on Feb. 13. The Palace Theatre is located at 305 Mason Avenue in Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore. Visit www.artsentercapecharles.org for more information on upcoming shows.


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