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The Pearl Theatre Company Presents "The Bald Soprano" by Ionesco at City Center Stage II
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The Pearl Theatre Company Presents "The Bald Soprano" by Ionesco at City Center Stage II

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The Pearl Theatre Company
www.pearltheatre.org
J.R. Sullivan, Artistic Director
Presents:

The Bald Soprano

By Eugene Ionesco
(Ionesco Bio)

Directed by Hal Brooks
Translated by Donald M. Allen

At
City Center Stage II
www.CityCenter.org
West 55th Street, Btw. 6th and 7th Avenues
NY, NY
212.581.1212

Featuring:
Jolly Abraham, Rachel Botchan,
Robin Leslie Brown, Bradford Cover,
Dan Daily, Brad Heberlee

Scenic Design: Harry Feiner
Costume Design: Barbara A. Bell
Lighting Design: Stephen Petrilli
Sound Design: M.L. Dogg
Dramaturg: Kate Farringtom
Production Stage Manager: Erin Albrecht
Costume Shop Manager: Anna Light
Production Manager/Tech. Director: Gary Levinson
Production Asst.: Abbey Bay
Dialect Design: Amy Stoller
Property Master: Joshua Yocom
Wigs: Amanda Miller

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 18, 2011


I can’t remember being so pleasantly surprised at the theater. The Pearl Theatre Company’s revival of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano was an absurdist take on the random language we use in casual banter and how meanings are derived through experiences, rather than through the utterance or reaction to words. Or, at least that’s an impression, as Ionesco’s masterpiece is so thought provoking, that one could create a dozen analyses of his motives in writing this one-act play. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Bradford Cover and Rachel Botchan) sit on plush living room chairs, before a fireplace that’s covered in wallpaper, with upside down candles and cups, strategically ornamenting their home. Clouds are painted on the rug, and Wedgewood profiles are upside down as well. Mrs. Smith chats, Mr. Smith makes clicking sounds with his tongue, and this scene could be the sound design for a postmodern dance. Words hang in the air, where the clouds should be, and nothing actually seems to happen to cause emotion or effect.

The second couple arrives, by invitation or accident, and the chairs are once again occupied by a well-dressed British couple, that’s confused then confident that they have met, that is, married. The rhythm and momentum of language seizes the stage, as deductive reasoning allows Mr. and Mrs. Martin (Brad Heberlee and Jolly Abraham) to deduce that they live at the same address and sleep in the same bed. A maid named Mary (Robin Leslie Brown), who opens and closes a kitchen door, is later revealed to be the mistress of a Fire Chief (Dan Daily), who was hiding near the entrance, looking for fires. What could be more charming, yet absurd? In any other play, such nonsense would fall to annoying camp, but here, it’s like bubbly champagne. In some ways, The Bald Soprano, an absurd title in itself, considering the tussles of curls most sopranos sport, reminds one of French farce, evoking Feydeau and Molière. But, there are no clandestine characters jumping in and out of beds, doors, and closets, and certainly not undressed. Rather, The Bald Soprano offers The Pearl’s audience innocent wit amidst sophisticated amusement.

Hal Brooks directed with attention to meticulous gestures, tight vocal timing, expressive personality, and synchronized battles and embraces. I was especially intrigued with Ms. Abraham’s and Mr. Heberlee’s repartee. It was rhythmic and refreshing. Harry Feiner’s scenic design was most clever, filled with lopsided, loopy props, but with a refined gestalt. Sound and lighting were perfect, with clarity of dialogue in a warmly lit room. Donald M. Allen notably translated Ionesco’s French to English. The program notes that “The Pearl Theatre Company seeks to connect audiences to great plays”. They certainly have mastered this mission, drawing us in with lucid eloquence and engaging performances.



Bradford Cover (Mr. Smith)
and Rachel Botchan (Mrs. Smith)
in the Pearl Theatre Company's
Production of Ionesco's "Bald Soprano"
Courtesy of Jacob J. Goldberg



Brad Heberlee (Mr. Martin)
and Jolly Abraham (Mrs. Martin)
in the Pearl Theatre Company's
Production of Ionesco's "Bald Soprano"
Courtesy of Jacob J. Goldberg



Jolly Abraham (Mrs. Martin)
and Rachel Botchan (Mrs. Smith)
in the Pearl Theatre Company's
Production of Ionesco's "Bald Soprano"
Courtesy of Jacob J. Goldberg



Dan Daily (The Fire Chief)
and Robin Leslie Brown (Mary)
in the Pearl Theatre Company's
Production of Ionesco's "Bald Soprano"
Courtesy of Jacob J. Goldberg



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net