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21 February 2008

35 below MATCH

From the C-T
BG--

'Match' provides intense theatric experience
by Tony Kiss, TKISS@CITIZEN-TIMES.com
published February 9, 2008 12:15 am

ASHEVILLE – Lies. Broken responsibilities. Emotional wounds that won’t heal, even years later. Those themes run through the heavy drama "Match," on stage at Asheville’s tiny 35below theater space.

This tale of three lives colliding in a dingy little apartment in Manhattan is incredibly intense. There are some funny moments, but mostly this is very intense stuff, as a man and his wife pay an odd visit to an aging choreographer, supposedly for scholarly reasons. But they begin weirdly prying into his life. It’s obvious there are some secrets here, and soon, the whole mess spills out and it’s not pretty.

The play, by Stephen Belber and directed by Jamie Nicholson, is getting its North Carolina premiere. Alphie Hyorth is the fading dancer and choreographer Tobi Powell, whose colorful Bohemian life has passed him by. It’s the show’s juiciest character and Hyorth is masterful in his portrayal.

Jane Porterfield is the soft-spoken interviewer Lisa Davis, who comes calling with her husband, Mike (Clete Fugate). She begins asking bland questions about Tobi’s career, but after seeming to be completely disinterested, Mike abruptly starts interrogating him about his sex life.

By intermission, we know what’s happening and in act two learn why. But even at the conclusion, when it seems all is wrapped up, you wonder just what has happened. This is adult material, peppered with profanity, sexual situations and drug use.

With Hyorth in the center of this story, Fugate gives an explosive performance while Porterfield remains mostly subdued. At times, she speaks in almost a whisper that’s difficult to understand, though she has some powerful emotional moments.

photo Contact Tony Kiss at 828-232-5855, via e-mail at TKiss@CITIZEN-TIMES.com

1 comment:

wnctheatre said...

From wnctheatre, http://wnctheatre.livejournal.com
BG--

If you missed ACT’s recent production of Match at 35 Below, then you should give yourself one serious ass-kicking. Under the sublime direction of Jamie Nicholson, Stephen Belber’s play is a poignant and hilarious journey on the road to self-discovery and forgiveness. The space of 35 Below was successfully turned into an uptown New York City apartment by scenic designer Ariel Vetter. The costumes by Victoria Smith were a perfect complement to the set, and helped to bring the characters to life, especially the lead role of Tobi Powell (Alphie Hyorth), the aging choreographer / reluctant father. Brian Sneeden’s sound design was a perfect underscore to the story. The only design element lacking ingenuity was the lighting design, which was a little too bright, without much definition. It did not detract from the production; it just did not do anything to enhance it.

The performances were riveting, from top to bottom, with only a couple of moments of forced emotion. In a space where everything is under a microscope and the action is almost literally in your lap, the actors were focused, connected, and told the story beautifully.

As mentioned earlier, Jamie Nicholson’s direction was superb. When you can forget that you’re watching a play and get lost in the world you’re witnessing on the stage, then everyone has clearly done their job, especially the director.

At the end, when the audience leapt to their feet at curtain call, only then did I remember I was not at North Carolina Stage Company or Flat Rock Playhouse. I was at Asheville Community Theatre’s 35 Below. Very impressive.