Friday, March 13, 2009

Head to Portsmouth, NH to See “All the Rage”

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to make readers of The White Rhino Report aware of my inability to be completely objective when it comes to recommending the new play, “All the Rage.” The playwright, Greg Gaskell, and the three principle actors, Gaskell, Andy Fling and Chris Savage, all grow up with my four sons, and are in many ways almost surrogate sons of mine. So, there was a modicum of parental pride in my enjoyment of the World Premiere of “All the Rage” last weekend at the Players’ Ring Theater in Portsmouth, NH.

Having laid my cards on the table, let me tell you that this show represents some of the best stage writing and ensemble acting I have seen in a long while outside of New York and London. Gaskell’s comedic writing is better than some of the best of Neil Simon. The timing of entrances, exits, dialogue, competing simultaneous monologues and pregnant pauses work to create an atmosphere that is both believable and electric. The ensemble comes together to create a lovably dysfunctional family and their once-and-future love interests. They are each note perfect in their roles and portrayals, and together, they are magical.

Writing in the Portsmouth Herald, Tama Le does a masterful job of describing what makes this play such a satisfying evening at the theater.

Portsmouth Herald Review of "All the Rage"

I would add only one additional thought to Tamara’s well- conceived review. I shared this sentiment on Opening Night during the talk-back session between actors and audience.

In most well-written tragedy or serious drama, there are moments of comic relief that allow the audience to take a breath and recover from the emotional bludgeoning of tragic scene after tragic scene. Gaskell turns that concept on its head. In this play, which is full of well-earned laughs – earned honestly by telling the truth about our human foibles – there is a breath-taking moment of what I will call “poignant relief” when two of the characters connect in a moment of pure honesty and understanding. It brought tears to my eyes, and it felt all the more real because it added a welcome new flavor to the bouillabaisse of belly laughs that had been the bill of fare for most of the evening up until that crucial plot twist.

For readers in the Boston area – or anywhere within a couple of hour’s drive of the New Hampshire Seacoast – let me say that this play is worth planning a road trip for. Head to Portsmouth, dine in one of the many wonderful restaurants that the Port City has to offer (I’ll be happy to offer recommendations if you care to ask), and settle in for an evening of superb entertainment.

The play runs through the final weekend in March. Order tickets now, because this show will sell out.

Link to The Players' Ring Website



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