News Column

British invasion repeat offers new drama

October 23, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 23--The Brits are coming -- again.

Bob Paisley, co-founder of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and artistic director of his own Central Standard Theatre, is again bringing a select group of U.K. performers to the MET for 10 days of solo performances, including original work and material that will be new to Kansas City audiences.

"British Invasion 2013 Volume 4" will run Dec. 5-15 at the MET, 3612 Main St.

For anyone out there with an interest in quality theater who may never have investigated previous editions of the Brit invasion, all I can say is you've missed some quality performances. The artists have been honing these pieces for months, if not years, at international festivals.

The material itself is much more than monologues. These are real plays. In most cases they are performed with minimal props and hardly any scenic elements, but every piece is carefully staged with close attention paid to lighting, music and sound.

The shows this year include:

--"Female Gothic," written and performed by Rebecca Vaughan and directed by Guy Masterson. Vaughan has dipped into the overlooked work of 19th-century female horror writers to put together this macabre journey. Vaughan will also reprise her popular "Austen's Women," in which she plays a number of characters from Jane Austen's novels.

-- "Animal Farm," Masterson's exceptional adaptation of George Orwell's political allegory, which Masterson captures in a phenomenal physical performance. "Animal Farm," directed by Tony Boncza, was a highlight of last year's invasion. Masterson will also reprise his "Fern Hill and Other Dylan Thomas."

--"Goering's Defense," written and performed by Ross Gurney-Randall and directed by Masterson, who also participated in the writing along with Andrew Bailey. Incorporating transcripts from Hermann Goering's trial in Nuremberg, this piece allows a look inside the dark genius and moral void of Hitler's right-hand man. This will be Gurney-Randall's first appearance in Kansas City.

-- "Bond! An Unauthorized Parody," written and performed by Gavin Robertson, who impressed invasion viewers last year with his provocative "Robertson's Crusoe." In this piece he portrays the fictional 007 as well as many of the other Bond characters. And for good measure he throws in Ian Fleming, the novelist who created Bond.

--"Contractions," written by Mike Bartlett, featuring Lizzie Thomas and Lissy Malt and directed by David Baxter of the Blackout Theatre in Bedford, England. The play is described as a dark comedy set in a corporate human resources meeting with "a manager from hell."

--"Her Big Chance" by Alan Bennett, also from the Blackout Theatre, features Natalie Castka and is directed by Baxter. The piece invites us to meet a film actress who, in a revelatory monologue, shares her delusions, gullibility and strange experiences starring in what appears to be soft-core porn.

For more information, go to CSTKC.com.

Other news

Kansas City Repertory Theatre received another shot of national attention when American Theatre, the magazine of Theatre Communications Group, published a cover story on "The Tallest Tree in the Forest" in its November issue. The cover featured a photo of Daniel Beaty, the actor/playwright who created the one-man show about Paul Robeson, and the accompanying article included interviews with Beaty and director Moises Kaufman.

TCG was founded in 1961 as a national organization and now has about 700 member theaters. This marks the first time the magazine has devoted a cover story to a production at the Rep (or any in Kansas City, to the best of anyone's recollection). The Rep co-produced the show with La Jolla Playhouse in California.

Speaking of firsts, a couple of readers have pointed out that the Kansas City production of Jeffrey Hatcher's "Three Viewings," currently running at Muehlebach Funeral Home, is not the first time the play has been staged in Kansas City. FlyOver Productions produced a four-day run of the piece in 2002 at Quality Hill Playhouse.

To reach Robert Trussell, call 816-234-4765 or send email to rtrussell@kcstar.com.

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(c)2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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