GHOST SONATA @ Archway Theatre
Archway celebrates five years with the macabre “GHOST SONATA” and announces new enticing season
Archway Theatre celebrated its fifth year as a theatre company with its opening of Strindberg’s “Ghost Sonata'” to a full house on October 22, 2016. The theater used the event both to announce its upcoming season and to celebrate three of its company members that have been with the group since its inception.
Archway’s “Ghost Sonata” is not Strindberg’s original piece. Director Steven Sabel says he rewrote nearly half of the original script. This is also not your traditional theater production. It is a chamber play, and dark; reminiscent of Satre’s “No Exit” in themes of purgatory and redemption, but with the poetic existentialism of Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” A perfect night of an hour of entertainment for those into the macabre, or those wanting to see a performance piece perfect for Halloween.
Kevin James Spear (top), and Christopher Karbo
The play begins with the hint of murder and The Student (Kevin James Whitmire), trying to get water from the Milk Maid (Mishelle Fuentes). They are interrupted by a brooding Hummel (Christopher Karbo) – the leader and redeemer of the cast. Karbo was one of the three original members of the Archway company honored on opening night with a special poster to be hung in the lobby. Karbo is the only character not dressed for a funeral or the grave.
The cast depicts a “family” oblivious to the dark that shadows it, and symbolic pairs that are not so much paired with each other, but thematic conceptions. Jessica Barrett Denison plays the Young Lady, and is paired with The Student. While Madeliene Heil as the Dark Lady is her opposite, showing less pale skin and bolder moves. These characters seem to reflect the scale of types within the play, from oblivious innocence to dark and guilt-ridden – all suffering, yet some perhaps more deserving than others.
The Colonel (Mark Motyl) represents the patriarch, and stashed away in a chamber lies the rising Mummy (Marlee Candell). The Dandy (Luke Martin McMahan), represents the cheating deceiver, while Noelle Rodriquez as the Hag, reminds us all of the effects of age on the female form, through the suffering of neglect and ill use.
Rounding out the cast is Ruthenna Porterfield as Bengtsson, the Colonel’s footman in the original work, but here played by a woman. Robert Valenzuela as the Consul’s ghost makes a perfect walking corpse. Finally, Brent White plays Johansson, Hummel’s man, and a committed member of the play’s haunting world.
The past seems to haunt many of the characters in this play, and they seek to forget, to forgive, and to escape.
The other two Archway company members honored opening night were actor Elias McCabe and costumer Sarah Morris. McCabe has appeared in nine out of 39 Archway theatre productions. Morris has costumed more than 30.
Archway also announced its new season of eight productions for 2017. The season will begin with two Shakespeare Plays, “The Winter’s Tale,” opening Jan. 5, and directed by Michael Shane Eastman; followed by “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Sabel, and starring Archway company members, Will Holbrook and Kei’la Ryan. These are to be followed by the company’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “Postmortem.” The theater produced this play for the Buena Park Civic Theatre this past September with much praise.
Christopher Karbo will play Edmond Rostand’s title role in “Cyrano,” followed by the masterful theatrical piece, “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” Next Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” will lead into the Archway’s annual Greek tragedy for the season, “Medea.” For next year’s Halloween season, the company intends on continuing the theme of ghosts from beyond the grave with “Night of the Living Dead,” adapted and directed by Ron Milts. The Archway also promises one more surprise production for the holiday season.
“Ghost Sonata” performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 20. See their website www.archwayla.com or call 818-980-PLAY for ticket information.