A Challenging Top- Flight Play at Gulfshore Playhouse
This first play for 2010 at Gulfshore Playhouse is a rare and beautiful thing. “Honour” is a serious play with substance, craft, complex characters, and memorable dialogue. On top of that, it has a superb cast and they pull it all off. The play is HONOUR by Australian playwright, Joanna Murray-Smith.
Kristen Coury, founder and Producing Artistic Director of Gulfshore Playhouse, deserves accolades for bringing us this play. She believes in taking on important and meaningful work. Her David Mamet’s OLEANNA, was a brave and cutting edge production, and in March Gulfshore Playhouse will bring us Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE. I’m sure it will be another play done with her flair and well worth seeing. There is lighter fare in February and early March, when James Sherman’s comedy, BEAU JEST is on the stage.
Coury has directed and staged HONOUR with genuine professionalism. I marvel at the cast she assembled. She must know people in high places, because truly, they have the most incredible credentials. There are four actors in the cast, three of whom are Equity. They have played on and off Broadway in New York, and major venues in London and Toronto, and between them they have been at most of our major regional theaters, besides doing extensive film and major T.V. work. The fourth actor played the lead role, the mother, in HONOUR when she was in a student production at Indiana University. Here in Naples, she is age appropriate as the daughter and does a beautifully fierce job, and must be having the time of her life acting among the other three pros.
The cast needed to be that good, because HONOUR is not an easy play to put on.
Up front, it’s a play about infidelity, but, that’s only a surface issue. Underneath are even more important conflicts and confrontations such as: What can make a good marriage go sour? What makes a woman give up her own ambitions? Is loyalty just resistance to change? How powerful does a seductress have to be to overcome the solid rituals of a 32 year old marriage?
The play is very cinematic, and Ms. Coury with her Set Designer, Robert F. Wolin, brilliantly set up four areas on the Norris Center Stage, where the action moves in and out with quick light and costume changes. It is played without intermission, and the audience seemed to have no urge to have one, and wanted to be right there with the play to its end.
The conflicts in the play are wrapped around with witty, erudite, and thought provoking rapid fire dialogue. The words explode inside difficult decisions for each character. The play isn’t always comfortable, but then, is good theater ever without challenging its audience? The characters are transformed, and they can’t go back to what once was. It is a demanding play. There’s nothing vapid about any of it. I believe you have to love theater and arrive willing to work for that love if you are to get what HONOUR has to give. It may not be for the faint-hearted. If you come looking for real theater, you will cherish HONOUR.
As the lights dimmed for the last time, and the play was over, the audience sat, obviously stunned. Questions fly in your mind, and you know the talk on the ride home will be as good and as exciting as the best theater always makes it to be.
I urge you to get down to Naples to see HONOUR at the Norris Center. You have only this coming weekend to catch it before it closes. It plays until January 31st. There are matinees at 3 p.m. on the 30th and 31st as well as evening performances at 8 on the 29th and the 30th. I truly believe you ought not to miss it. It may be for you, as it has been for me, one of the absolute highlights of my theater-going season. Congratulations to Gulfshore Playhouse and to all of you who had anything to do with this exciting production.
For Tickets, The Box Office number is: 1- 866-811-4111. The Norris Center is at 755 8th Avene South, Naples, Fl 34102.