Sunday, 20 May 2012

Adjudication of The December Man / L'homme de decembre

Compiled by Carol Beauchamp, Executive Director & Anne Mooney, Community Theatre Coordinator

Highlights from the detailed adjudication by Annette Procunier of The Curtain Club’s presentation of The December Man / L’homme de d├ęcembre at Theatre Ontario Festival 2012.
  • Annette – lighting plot very good – worked extremely well.  When we look at setting, costumes, etc. that is in the script, often it is just a recitation of the performing company.  The playwright expects the play to be produced.  You don’t have to be stuck to every word – this production did this very well with a semi naturalistic set. 
  • Placing of furniture – given the detail put into creating a wonderful environment – the placing of the furniture limits the working space by putting the sofa in the middle of the stage – it doesn’t allow for as much upstage/downstage work.  Think carefully about utilizing the furniture in a small performance space  - the choice of the furniture was good – colours, style etc – right chair for father etc, however, having sofa centre stage limits the movement, even although this might be somewhat realistic in terms of the room.
  • Good subtle lighting to indicate the television.
  • Lively and fun discussion – another set detail was the iron grate outside the window – but it was really tree branches – much laughter – the crew said if that added to the ambience then that’s what it was!
  • Costumes: liked all the technical aspects of the play – the costumes paid great attention to detail.  Liked the style of Catherine – reflected well each stage of her journey.  The cross on her costume was really good.  Benoit could have had a slightly more distressed work clothes – there was a story behind this.  Liked the logo on the work shirt.  All the costumes reflected who he was, and the life style he was living.  The costumes captured the young man with little style sense – just a kid.
  • Kathleen knitting – was lovely – might have introduced a little more knitting in the latter scenes (earlier part of the action) as the knitting was always there.  There is always a chance to use a convention throughout a production.
  • The drinking by Benoit was well handled.  During the early time line, the odd beer was very good.  As the drinking progressed the heavier, more aggressive and angry drinking was very well handled. 
  • Attention to detail around physical characteristics was terrific.  Nice balance between the actors at the beginning of the play.  The reflection of the love and nature of their relationship was well handled. Annette like the sense of the uncontrollable visceral responses. Question – are the responses bigger than the characters would have used in their regular life, is the shouting an abnormal response for these characters?  Being quiet is also a response to anger.  This is something that could be explored perhaps banging of pots and pans etc.  It is hard theatrically to watch a lot of shouting and fighting.  With these extremely fine actors, explore using smaller and less aggressive ways of showing anger. 
  • Only child – they captured the essence of Jean being an only child. 
  • Jean - difficult role being the only child with so much pressure of being the first child to graduate from university in their family.  The breaking of the boy may well have come anyway, perhaps not to suicide though.  Jean created a great sense of the torment without making the character crazy.  Annette felt that he captured that very well  A difficult role, very much liked the genuineness.
  • Like the discomfort of Benoit in comforting Kathleen.  This was very nice.  Nice sexuality shown in the earlier part of their relationship.  The revelation of their personal and private relationship was very nice.  We really sensed the difficulty of how Benoit would respond to comforting both Kathleen and Jean.  Like how he told stories of his childhood to comfort his son.  Benoit’s ability to bring these stories to life was very good.  His trying to be engaged with his son’s life, Annette appreciated how he handled this.  There was a little bit of a problem with Benoit’s projection at times.  However, the softness of emotion was very good.  Pacing of the first scene was good.  Scenes 2 and 3 could have been quicker.
  • Model of building – like what the model looked like – modern, was evocative and its position on stage and the creation of the fourth character was very good.  The running gag about the church was also very good.  The first model could have been more trashed and more obvious that it had been mended by Kathleen. 
  • Christmas tree was great because it was so awful.  Annette- hope it’s not yours – it was.  Much laughter.
  • Difficult emotional play for us to watch but we were compelled to watch it.  Annette was engaged instantly by Kathleen and continued to be by her throughout the production.  This was a balanced production from all the performers.
  • Brian J. Moore liked what Annette had said about the heartbeats in the public adjudication.  Annette said this was a good choice, however, tended to intrude and could have become softer as we moved toward the earlier stages in the story or perhaps the choice of an irregular heartbeat.  This was a good choice considering the playwright stated no music in the production.
Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2012 on the Theatre Ontario Website

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