We recently saw a marvelous performance of the play “Shining City” by Conor McPherson.
The Redtwist Theatre is the very definition of intimate — a perfect location to experience such an engaging, emotionally-charged play.
After walking through the stage to get to our seats, the 2nd row put us only a few feet from the actors. Feeling as though we were actually in the room with these tortured souls added to the intensity of a haunting story set in the office of a former priest turned therapist.
As someone who is neither an actor nor a regular theater-goer, I’m not qualified to comment on the acting beyond saying that I found all four cast members to be thoroughly engaging and I left thinking, “these are true professionals.” While I’m obliged to say that my talented and hard-working brother, Kaelan Strouse, did an amazing job, the true complement is that I forgot I knew him and only saw his character on that stage.
Since nothing ruins suspension of disbelief like poorly-executed accents, I was also impressed by the actor’s abilities to deliver intense performances in impeccable Irish brogue.
The Lighting and Sound
As the central character, Ian, changed clothes and added props as evidence of the 2 months meant to pass between each of the 5 acts, the lighting and sound design flowed beautifully to show the passing of time — a pleasant surprise that added a surreal texture to the experience while complementing the underlying thematic tone.
“Shining City” runs through the end of February. Click here for the show schedule and ticket information.
A Screenwriter’s Perspective
When it comes to dialogue, the greatest difference between stage plays and movies is exposition. In plays, exposition is typically contained in dialogue, while in movies, it’s almost always better to “show” rather than “tell.” Since the commissioned script I’m currently writing is a single-location, dialogue-heavy character study leaning somewhat towards the style of a stage play, it was a pleasure hearing well-crafted, expository dialogue.
After the table read of Sawbuck, I found myself editing away some instances of unnecessary character interruptions…
Just a couple days later, John August addresses this very subject in his post “Pardon the interruption” (be sure to read the comments for a good discussion along with an extremely valuable synopsis of the proper use of ellipses and dashes in screenplays by DMS)…
Then, while watching “Shining City,” I couldn’t help but notice the endless character interruptions and unfinished sentences woven through beautifully-paced dialogue…
I suppose this was the lesson I was meant to learn this week.