Still Alive and
Star Bar performance glows with vitality
The Colorado Springs Independent, May
In an MTV world, the genius of past eras is
still compelling, especially when it mirrors contemporary concerns
as in the case of Oscar Wilde. A playwright who, when going through
U.S. customs in 1882, said, "I have nothing to declare but my
genius!" Wilde's ego may have died with him, but his wit, drama and
characters are alive and well in playhouses today.
Lady Windermere's Fan, Wilde's first
great success, is currently being performed by the Star Bar Players
at the Lon Chaney Theatre downtown by a very talented and
Lady Windermere's Fan is, as Wilde
put it, a play about a good woman. A more appropriate subtitle might
be: a play about a good woman gone bad, but it takes a true heart to
realize she's a rare gem underneath. Thus, one of the major
underlying themes of the script -- no one is ever all good or all
bad. And it's hard to decipher the difference when dealing with the
charmingly feisty Mrs. Erlynne, the central character of the play.
Mrs. Erlynne's reputation is built,
destroyed, run through the gutter and back before we even get to
meet her in the second act. The women despise her (can you say,
jealousy?). The men have all called on her (whatever that means!).
And there remains an air of mystery and tragedy about her past that
we've yet to learn.
Indeed, just all the talk about Mrs. Erlynne
in Act One is a tough act to follow for any actress playing the
part. But Amy Brooks transcends the complications deftly in a
stunning performance. As the complex Mrs. Erlynne, she pours on
lavish compliments with a sarcastic sting. She melts the edges off
the most rigid of Victorian elites with effortless grace. And after
all her mask wearing is complete, she reveals the true depths of her
soul and altruistic compassion when she saves Lady Windermere from
making the same traumatic mistake she made 20 years prior.
As a young woman coming of age, and slowly
coming into knowledge, Lady Windermere (Polly Cambron) must steer
her way among the many manipulations of friends and family. One of
her most difficult decisions is taking a stand against the rigid
morality of her husband, Lord Windermere (Mark Hennessy).
Polly Cambron's Lady Windermere is the
perfect incarnation of innocence and naivete. With a swan-like
elegance, she glides through the role, unfortunately not always
giving it as much volume or dramatic tension as necessary.
Mark Hennessy plays Lord Windermere as a
pillar of Victorian nobility, a man never faltering in his beliefs,
regardless of the strong tides of social rumor. Hennessy lends the
role an intriguing presence -- even when just smoking a cigar, the
actor is "on" -- the wheels of his mind visibly turning as he
evaluates the humorous musings of the other men.
And what humorous men they all are! The
remaining ensemble cast provide engaging comedic chemistry to
counterbalance all the social melodrama. Most noteworthy is Stephen
Edwards as Mr. Cecil Graham, a tall, lanky figure infused with a
quirky, mischievious nature. Thoroughly enjoying his role as one of
the single, unattached men, he pulls mockingly at the strings of the
Wilde's genius thrives in the Star Bar
Players' production of Lady Windermere's Fan, proving that
quality art transcends the test of time, shedding light on the
eternal foibles of humanity.
-- Brooke Robb