Review of “Spoon River” at Eclectic Company Theatre in North Hollywood.
By Carol Edger Germain
I must admit I was not familiar with Edward Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology,” published in 1915 and described as “a collection of post-mortem autobiographical ‘epitaphs,’ where 244 former citizens of the fictional Spoon River, Illinois tell us the truth about their lives with the honesty no fear of consequences enables,” but I was intrigued by the concept, being fascinated with all things spooky, haunting, and weirdly creative. I enjoyed it so much I saw it twice. Also, I discovered that you can get an “epitaph a day” from one of the former residents of Spoon Hill via email or RSS feed and immediately signed up.
The ten actors in this presentation each played several roles, and the transitions were smooth and convincing. The details of their lives, from mundane to romantic to mysterious to sordid to perhaps criminal, were presented by the spirits themselves, each coming forth from the beyond to give us a glimpse of the life they lived before being eternally planted on the hill. Some of the characters are solitary, some have intertwining stories, and all are loosely woven together with snippets of Americana music. The format of the presentation was lively and fun, but with its somber moments as well, and kept the audience looking forward to the next voyeuristic glimpse into someone’s life lived long ago. The theater is very small and cozy, with just forty seats, making it feel that the audience might be at a party with the spirits, eavesdropping on all the conversations in the room.
Spoon River: The Cemetery on the Hill
Directed and written by Maureen Lucy O’Connell.
Eclectic Company Theatre
5212 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village, CA 91607
See it by March 22.
90 minute show in an intimate 40-seat theater.
$18 per person.
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.
[This article has been updated to include the correct play title – March 5, 2015 10:53 a.m.]
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