• The Missing Pages of Lewis Carroll (Photo - bostoncourt.com).

      The Missing Pages of Lewis Carroll (Photo – bostoncourt.com).

      Pasadena has two vastly different but “must see” plays showing this month.

      By Carol Edger Germain

      – The Missing Pages of Lewis Carroll

      At Boston Court, we have The Missing Missing Pages Theater panelPages of Lewis Carroll, an imagining of what may have transpired during the days when the pages were removed from the journal kept by math professor Charles Dodgson (known more familiarly as author Lewis Carroll).

      It’s acknowledged that several pages were removed and have never been found. Rumors have circulated for a century, and now Lily Blau has created a vision of what might have happened between Mr. Carroll and Alice Lidell, the young girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland.

      This project could have gone so wrong in so many ways.  But Lily Blau and company have created an intriguing, visually fascinating, and perfectly portrayed vision of what might have been, weaving in many Alice references and visuals, including the White Rabbit, who emerges from the rabbit hole and charmingly remains throughout the story to warn, goad, and observe Mr. Dodgson/Carroll.

      Every actor is perfect in his or her part. The set is gorgeous and smoothly transitioned from a closed room to a room with open windows, beyond which you can see the children’s swing and an ivy-covered wall that reaches beyond where the eye can see. Although Alice is played by an adult, she is wonderfully childlike and believable as young Alice. Mrs. Liddell appears as the Red Queen in several frenzied scenes, and the transition is fun to watch.

      I really enjoy the pace, subtlety, and overall visual beauty of the set, characters and costumes. Although this is the premier for the play, and certain scenes or characters may evolve as it makes the rounds of theaters across the country (I feel quite certain it will), I really can’t point to any character, dialogue, scene, or plot development point that I would suggest needs more work. It exceeds my expectations, and I hope to catch it again later this month.

      The Missing Pages of Lewis Carroll
      By Lily Blau; developed in collaboration with Sydney Gallas. Directed by Abigail Deser.
      Lewis Carroll – Leo Marks
      Alice – Corryn Cummins
      Alice’s sisters – Erin Barnes and Ashley Ruth Jones
      Alice’s parents – Erica Hanrahan-Ball and Time Winters
      White Rabbit – Jeff Marlow
      Boston Court
      70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena
      Jan. 31st – March 1st
      1 hour, 40 min (no intermission).
      $17 – $34. (Special: $5 night – Feb. 28. No presale. Cash @ door.)
      Purchase here.

      Ο Ο Ο

      – The Whipping Man

      Jarrod M. Smith, Adam Haas Hunter and Charlie Robinson in THE WHIPPING MAN. (Photo - Debora Robinson).

      Jarrod M. Smith, Adam Haas Hunter and Charlie Robinson in THE WHIPPING MAN. (Photo – Debora Robinson).

      At the Pasadena Playhouse we have The Whipping Man, which takes place in a burned out Southern mansion after the South surrenders in the Civil War, and the slaves are freed.

      The Whipping Man Theater panel.The family members who lived in the mansion have fled, but one slave remains, taking care of what’s left and existing day to day, waiting for the return of the master, who promised him money to go along with his freedom.  The son returns from the war with serious injuries (and serious questions about the circumstances of his return), and another slave returns as well.

      The entire play takes place in one room of the mansion with just these three characters.  They relive the past and imagine the future, all waiting on an anticipated pivotal event. Emotions build as secrets are revealed, and past transgressions are relived.

      Good performances by all three actors, strong emotions are portrayed, and I learned about an aspect of the Civil War which I was unaware of — the connection between Jews and slaves in the South. It seems that the Jews had empathy for the slaves, even though they were slave owners as well, but also perhaps enjoyed the deflection onto the slaves of prejudice that might have been directed toward them. There’s an exhibit in the exhibition hall at the theater regarding this issue, and I’m glad I read a lot of it before the play started, or I might have been surprised that the slaves were having a Seder.

      The play is nearly two hours long, but every minute is riveting. The pace of the build-up to the end is just right, and the characters are well developed.

      The Whipping Man
      By Matthew Lopez
      Directed by Martin Benson
      Simon – Charlie Robinson
      With Adam Haas Hunter and Jarrod M. Smith.
      Pasadena Playhouse
      39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena

      Feb. 3rd – March 1st
      2 hours (including a 15-minute intermission).
      $30-$65. Premiere seating: $125
      Purchase here.

       

      Carol Edger Germain is a theatre lover and a 25-year Pasadena resident. She joins the family of Colorado Boulevard to spread the word about theater that she thinks others might like.


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