I have been debating about posting reviews of my work on my blog. It seems, well, self-aggrandizing. BUT, this is a blog about me, and my views on design, so I feel like I need to allow others to express their views of my work.
My thoughts on reviews is that they can be instructive about one primary thing — what the reviewer thinks. The reviewer is not part of the process of creating a show. Reviews may blame the director for problems that might be caused by a designer…. and I have frequently been blamed or complimented for that which was truly someone else’s idea. Reviews can give some sense of the communities feeling about types of theatre, design decisions etc.
With all of that said, the batch of reviews from my recently closed production of “THE ILLUSION” by Tony Kushner (by way of Corneille) are here:
From the Fresno Bee (Full review here):
“Drawing on the powerhouse design strengths of Fresno City College, the play offers a visually sumptuous rendition of playwright Tony Kushner’s adaptation of classic playwright’s Pierre Corneille’s “L’Illusion Comique.”
Christopher R. Boltz’s lighting superbly sets the mood — the opening is a stunner as the cave throbs with flashes of various hues, setting a mystical scene — and his impeccable set, on which those lights seem to dance, offers a heft and solidity that serves as a counterbalance to the airy nature of the prose. Jeff Barrett’s sound design is integral to the effect. Debbi Shapazian’s ravishing period costumes feel both luxurious and yet, well, theatrical. And Janine Christl’s smart and adept direction steers us time and again back to Kushner’s wonderful wordplay”
And from Valley Theatre Reviews (full review here):
“The magic is really where the heart of this FCC production lies. The power of the staging and lighting is integral to the work and is executed flawlessly. Set design by Christopher R Boltz successfully creates the appropriate atmosphere for an otherworldly magician’s cave, while his rich and specific lighting design provides some of the best magic tricks in the show– complete with misdirection and magical reveal. Debbi Shapazian’s luxe period costumes, which are incredibly well researched and executed beautifully, also highlight the classic form while looking very appealing to the modern eye. The full use of the technical staff’s capabilities are on display in this production.”
The reviewers liked my work. Yea! I, however, are a bit more critical of my work. There are a few moments in the play that didn’t live up to my wishes. The very final moment of the play won me great accolades the last time I did the show. My dearest husband (so far as I know the only person other than me to have seen both productions) didn’t think this production matched the magic. The final effect is the appearance of the moon and stars and the path to the moon. In the previous production the set encapsulated the audience, so the moon and stars appeared through the set, but the “path” was merely suggested by the actors. This time around, the cave stopped at 9′ above the floor, and the stars appeared above that. My stars twinkled this time, but their appearance was not quite the stunner that it was before.
However, the great effect near the end, I feel was far more powerful this time around. About 4 pages from the end Kusher indicates “A great red curtain falls.” In my last production, my lighting, and the director’s staging were such that several audience members completely missed the red curtain, so brief was its appearance. (The first time, i was not the scenic designer). This time, I built the curtain out of red scrim, so that I could delay its removal because it could be seen through if I as the lighting designer so chose. This and slightly different staging made made it much more apparent. THis I am very proud of, as it is a powerful moment in the play.
So as I have started posting the reviews of my work — I guess I will continue. I might (in the future), collect some of my favorite reviews of my work and post them, with comment.