2012 Press

References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot
by Jose Rivera  (May 24 – June 9):

References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot -- moon

 

“The opening play of the season at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater always has a sense of magic to it, but with Jose Rivera’s References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, the Outer Cape arts Mecca ignites in a sultry, sensual sublimation of sight and sound.” Barnstable Patriot

Lombardo, the company’s artistic director, delivers a convincing answer to the question of whether WHAT will continue to be a ground-breaking playhouse for theater with an edge References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot keeps WHAT’s arc of “adventurous theater” intact. Barnstable Patriot

In References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, a magical world unfolds… (it’s) a theater lover’s production. Provincetown Magazine

what dali 0512-4(1)

“References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is a visually beautiful production, with a large dose of head-messing thrown in. It

 has the spirit, color and outline of a Dali painting.” IO Cape Cod

 

“Hysteria” is Hysterical at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater

From IO Cape Cod
By: Susan Blood, August 8, 2012

You have to admit, a play that inspires the stage manager to tweet, “We have to find a credible way to trip over the phallus” during rehearsal breeds a certain amount of curiosity.

Hysteria: Or Fragments of an Analysis of an Obsessional Neurosis, which opened at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater on Saturday, deserves every bit of curiosity it has so far managed to stir up.

It’s one of those plays that gives small doses of information at a time, so you don’t quite know what’s happening—and you can’t wait to find out. The synopsis is left intentionally murky, all the better for sucking the audience into the story.

In 1938, Salvador Dali visited Sigmund Freud in London. Hysteria, in its simplest description, is a re-imagining of that visit. It’s complicated by the simultaneous appearance of Jessica, a young woman who climbs the garden wall and demands to see Freud.

Nearing the end of his battle with cancer, Freud wishes to refer her to another doctor, but she wants nothing to do with his referrals. It’s Freud she wants.

Hysteria at its best

Playwright Terry Johnson is a brilliant storyteller, and this production does his script justice. Stacy Fischer captures the audience as soon as she appears, wrapping them firmly around her finger just as surely as if she had a razor to her wrist (which, incidentally, she does).

One moment Jessica is hysterical, the next she is the most rational person in the room. Granted, when she’s alone in the room with Dali, this isn’t saying much.

Michael Edwards as Freud had me arguing over breakfast about what the father of modern psychology was like, until I caught myself and realized I don’t actually know the real Sigmund Freud.

Pete Clapsis appears as Freud’s doctor and friend, Yahuda.

Justin Campbell would not have been my choice for Salvador Dali, and that’s why I’m not a casting director. I love Dali. I love Justin Campbell. Campbell did Dali justice in spades. He was hilarious and completely, irretrievably, over the top.

Ignorance is bliss

Hysteria balances laugh-out-loud comedy with deadly serious revelations. You don’t know what’s happening until it all becomes shockingly clear – at which point you may wish you didn’t know what’s happening.

It’s also one of those plays that makes you want to know more after you’ve left. I have several tabs open in my browser, including the Kristalnacht Wikipedia page, an essay titled The Myth of Freud’s Ostracism by the Medical Community and a couple free digital editions of Freud’s writing.

As the two men discuss surrealism, Freud asks Dali, “Could you spend your life pursuing something you no longer believe in?” In the question lies the crux of the story. Can we continue to pursue something we no longer believe in, and at what cost?

The set and the lighting by Scott Cooper and John R. Malinowski worked the kind of stage magic requisite for a play with Dali in it. Sarah Beals filled Freud’s study with books and sculptures that made me want to get a closer look at the titles and learn more about Freud’s actual study. There was also the question of, “How many phallus-shaped props can you find in this picture?”

I lost count.

Hysteria: Or Fragments of an Analysis of an Obsessional Neurosis is a co-production with American Stage Theatre Company, directed by Todd Olson. If you miss it at WHAT, you’ll have to go to Saint Petersburg, Florida.

But don’t miss it here. If anything, go to Saint Petersburg to see it again.

Freud, Dali and Madcap Madness

From the Cape Cod Times
By DEBBIE FORMAN
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
August 06, 2012

WELLFLEET — Dreams clash with reality. Fantasies face off, and the unconscious surfaces in Terry Johnson’s “Hysteria: Or Fragments of an Analysis of an Obsessional Neurosis,” at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater this month.

It truly is a mad, mad world — well, at least hysterical — as intruders burst into, you guessed it, Sigmund Freud’s study at the somewhat quiet end of his life. Johnson’s 1993 play is a madcap farce, a laugh-out-loud comic romp laced with dark interludes, which come to haunt Freud in the year before his death.

Related to some of Freud’s work and actual events, Johnson’s play creates a scenario with witty dialogue and burlesquelike slapstick that imagines a meeting between Freud and Salvador Dali (the surrealist artist did visit Freud), and a haunting figure who arrives to challenge Freud’s sexual theories and his integrity.

In 1938, after the Nazis took over Austria and a year before he died of cancer, Freud and his family escaped to safety in England. When the play opens he is musing in his study when a woman in a raincoat persistently knocks on the garden door. He finally lets her in and she proceeds to taunt him, questioning his theory of “penis envy” and finally taking off her clothes and hiding in a closet (actually a bathroom).

Yahuda, Freud’s doctor, arrives questioning his manuscript “Moses and Monotheism,” which expresses Freud’s denial of God. With the death of God, Freud tells his Jewish doctor, “We begin to believe in ourselves.” Yahuda responds to the psychoanalyst: “You relate to one invisible thing and refuse to recognize another.”

Johnson’s script is packed with clever interchanges, which proceed to high comedy when wild and zany Dali bursts onto the scene to honor the contributions Freud and his theories on dreams and the unconscious have made to surrealist art.

Meanwhile the mysterious Jessica is trying to destroy Freud’s integrity by challenging his abandonment of his seduction theory, which attributed the cause of hysteria and obsessional neurosis to the repression of paternal sexual abuse.

Freud later rejected that analysis when he concluded that the memories of sexual abuse were only the patient’s imagination.

Todd Olson’s direction keeps the comedy moving in a fast and furious pace, which then seamlessly slides into the dark side of Jessica’s memories.

Michael Edwards sympathetically portrays the autocratic Freud, faced with challenges to his life’s work. Edwards sensitively evokes the pain, not only of Freud’s cancer, but also the doubts about his work, which he still aggressively defends.

Justin Campbell ignites the comedy as the grandiose Dali. He arrives to pay tribute to Freud, dressed in a flamboyant gold and red striped suit (a nod to costume designer Adrin Erra Puente), twirling his mustache, and ends up in the closet in his underwear. Campbell’s broad comic gestures and loose-limbed performance exaggerate the madcap elements in the play.

Stacy Fischer dazzles as she plays the outrageous Jessica with wild abandon in the comic scenes and then descends into a gagging hysteric as she takes to Freud’s couch to relive her own troubled life.

As the kindly doctor Yahuda, Pete Clapsis grounds the play in reality, even as he mixes in with the wacky activity around him.

Scott Cooper’s set design of Freud’s studio with Persian carpets and couch and a bookcase full of his collections, including several sculptural penises, is splendid.

Playwright Johnson activates the symbols of Dali’s art, and three of the characters are indeed symbolic elements. Yahuda stands for the tradition of Judaism as the Holocaust begins. Jessica seems like a fantasy figure created to haunt Freud’s dreams. And Dali represents the visual course of surrealism, which expressed so much of Freud’s theories on the unconscious.

Just as it will make you laugh at life’s absurdities, “Hysteria” will also incite your intellectual curiosity to discover more.

‘Consequences’ cast sparkles under solid direction
Cape Cod Times

Starring in Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater’s “The Consequences” are, from left, Andrew Guilarte, Crystal Arnette and Alex Herrald.MICHAEL AND SUZ KARCHMER
By LAURIE HIGGINS
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
June 17, 2012

WELLFLEET – It’s hard to believe that the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre has never staged a musical in its 27-year history until now, but it makes a perfect kind of sense that the group would choose to stage “The Consequences” as its first one.
The music and lyrics of the indie-rock musical were written by Nathan Leigh, a sound designer at the theater since 2006, along with Kyle Jarrow, an OBIE award-winning playwright who also wrote the book. The musical was revised and worked on over a three-year period that included a stint at the WHAT lab, a play development program for new works.
“The Consequences” isn’t your mother’s or grandmother’s musical, although I suspect they would enjoy the show, too. Because even though the musical is chock full of ironic and spot-on hipster references, it also has a whole lot of heart, and it asks questions that are relevant for all ages.
In the opening announcements, Dan Lombardo, artistic director of WHAT, described the show as a love story told in 12 songs and one short dance sequence performed by Troll dolls. It proved to be as apt of a description as any for a musical that defies easy definition.
The love story in question is between Ellie and Jeremy, who fell in love on the Jersey shore 10 years before the action of the play and then separated for reasons that become apparent later. In the present day action of the play, Ellie is a singer/songwriter in a band based out of Portland, whose biggest career highlight has been having a song played on the television show “One Tree Hill.”
Jeremy is a software designer engaged to be married to a chiropractor named Jill who collects Troll dolls and believes the key to happiness is acceptance of life’s realities, no matter how mundane or mediocre they are. Both Ellie and Jeremy are miserable in their present lives, which leads to the temptation to revisit a happier and less fraught time when all things seemed possible, even true love.
As the play opens, they both remember a certain song from 10 years earlier they listened to together in a beat-up Volvo with fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. It is the first of several “shared simultaneous flashback dreams” or SSFDs, as the narrator refers to them.
The script very cleverly balances the present with the past until they inevitably meet. There are pop culture references and some spot-on funny lines that perfectly capture the angst of late young adulthood (think late 20s, early 30s), when the past seems so much better than the present.
Throughout the musical, Leigh and Jarrow’s original score is simply wonderful, with songs that range from the soulful “All That You’re Touching Is Skin,” to the bitter and hilarious, “Mr. Walker,” an ode to a bad boss that begins with the line, “You took my soul, so I think I’ll take your paper clip.”
A cast of three could be claustrophobic with the wrong actors, but this cast sparkles under Kel Haney’s deft direction. Crystal Arnette is mesmerizing as Ellie. Her looks and delivery are reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel, and she has the singing chops that complete the comparison. Whether she is getting her rock on or singing a heartfelt ballad, it’s impossible to take your eyes off her.
Alex Herrald plays the slightly neurotic Jeremy with equal skill. In many ways, he seems like the more tragic character. There is a sense he can only discover his inner passion and true desires with Ellie, but he always hesitates to grab the brass ring.
Equity actor Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte pulls the whole story together as the narrator. He is charming and engaging the entire time he is on stage, even if he is just watching Arnette and Herrald sing from a table in set designer Ted Vitale’s fully imagined bar. He’s also very funny, and can even make the weather report sound hilarious. He serves as a part-time coach and fill-in bartender, but eventually is revealed to be Ellie and Jeremy’s inner subconscious, giving them a push toward remembering the past and forging a future together. Will they take his advice? Should they take his advice?
These are among the questions “The Consequences” asks. It makes for a thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining evening you won’t want to miss.

References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot
by Jose Rivera  (May 24 – June 9):

“The opening play of the season at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater always has a sense of magic to it, but with Jose Rivera’s References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, the Outer Cape arts Mecca ignites in a sultry, sensual sublimation of sight and sound.” Barnstable Patriot

Lombardo, the company’s artistic director, delivers a convincing answer to the question of whether WHAT will continue to be a ground-breaking playhouse for theater with an edge References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot keeps WHAT’s arc of “adventurous theater” intact. Barnstable Patriot

In References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, a magical world unfolds… (it’s) a theater lover’s production. Provincetown Magazine

“References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is a visually beautiful production, with a large dose of head-messing thrown in. It has the spirit, color and outline of a Dali painting.” IO Cape Cod