Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Fringe - Day 4 - Part 1

The Hobbit
MCTC Whitney Mainstage

It was great to see old friends like Gandolf and Golem again, and to see how the hobbits got mixed up in this whole Lord of the Rings business in the first place.

There are a lot of things to admire about the production. Foremost would be the sheer breakneck speed and skill of the storytelling. Clocking in at standard Fringe show length, it nonetheless gave the story enough room to breathe that the audience could keep up. This was no small feat, as two of the cast (with the able assistance of an onstage crew person) were playing a multitude of roles, often in the same scene, surrounding the other actor who played the title character that we followed through this series of adventures.

Just like the actors, the set pieces did more than double duty - forests, mountains, caves, country roads, and home sweet hobbit home at the beginning and end, the journey completed. Flipping, folding, falling down or standing up, the nicely painted cardboard cutouts combined to provide a variety of looks that covered a lot of territory in Middle Earth.

Special mention must be given to the dragon. The monster puppet was a lot of fun to watch in action.

My only quibble, and it's a small one, is that I found myself wishing the whole thing were in a slightly more intimate venue. I'd encourage folks to arrive early and sit close to the action if you can, the better to get caught up in the fantasy. The Whitney mainstage is so large that it can sometimes overwhelm or distract from what is essentially an intimate story with a small number of players.

That said, this is still a fine way to get your Tolkien fix while you wait for the next movie to come out. It was great to see this story take flight live on stage.

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