Another C-T review.
Billing a tense and graphic theater experience about a gay-bashing hate crime as a comedy has inherent risks.
Scapegoat Theatre Collective's fine “Weldon Rising” is a case in point. The script does call for comedic devices, and there is ample opportunity gales of laughter.
But in the current production at downtown Asheville's BeBe Theatre, the audience is torn between responding to horror before its very eyes and enjoying the stereotypical drag queen who always refers to herself in the third person.
Directed by Taryn Strauss and written by Phyllis Nagy, “Weldon Rising” is theater that makes you work for your reward.
It's not likely many viewers will say they enjoyed the show. But sensitive and aware audience members can easily acknowledge their appreciation of the work and its execution.
Among the surrealistic elements in the show: a heat wave ravishing New York's Central Park that might suggest hell; a central character shredding paper and cloth as he falls to pieces; and a stigmata right out of pre-Enlightenment superstition.
It's set in New York City's Greenwich Village in the 1980s.
A biracial lesbian couple live across from a gay male duo, at least one of whom shares living accommodations with a tortured drag queen, Marcel, who always refers to herself in the third-person.
Stephanie Hickling and Brooke Whitcomb are the lesbian couple duo; Peter Brezny and Scott Fisher are convincing as the young, ill-fated gay males.
Marcel becomes a mantra as the towering diva expresses her displeasure by using her stage name, as in “Marcel does not approve of that.”
Actor Scott Thompson could milk the comedic moments even more, but — given the heavy-duty tragedy played out on stage — finding this balance is a tough challenge.
Jason Williams plays the only sexually undefined role, and his Boy is effective, equal to the fine acting of the others.
“Weldon Rising” asks us to consider our response to the issue of hate, still all too common, around us.
Jim Cavener writes on theater for take5
20 April 2009
Another C-T review.