Reviewed by Elias Stimac
Presented by Creation Production Company and MC 99 at the Connelly Theater, 220 E. 4th St., NYC, Nov. 30-Dec. 17.
It is interesting to note that Samuel Beckett's one-act play, "Embers," was originally presented as a radio drama when it debuted over 40 years ago. The play focuses on a man alone with his memories, regrets, and yearnings, and is filled with haunting imagery that vividly comes to life in the minds of listeners.
With the script now being presented as a stage play, the artistic designers have risen to the occasion and met the challenge of trying to match what the imagination might offer. Troy Hourie has built an ingenious setting, a fragile canvas box that encloses the man and serves as a screen for his dreams. Projected on this scrim cube are evocative scenes captured by the talented team of Nikki Weavers (videographer), Darius Fisher (video editor), and Zbigniew Bzymek and Peter Normann (video designers). David Gilman adds lush layers of sound, Jose Halac composed stirring music, and Nelson R. Downend, Jr. bathes the picture in a softly lit glow. Mattie Ulrich completes the portrait with nostalgic costuming.
The play itself is fairly static, and its best moments come when the man (Matthew Maguire) is visited by the spirit of his spouse (Mary Magdalena Hernandez). Director Caroline Nastro takes the opportunity to create an uneasy dynamic between the seated man and his wandering wife. Nastro gives the play a lingering level of dramatic tension, and her cast members Maguire and Hernandez successfully convey a sense of loneliness and longing.
In the end, however, the technical achievements are the star of this show. Let's hope the team can find another worthwhile project on which to project its unique vision.