Top-notch production offered by Theater Club
By MICHAEL SMITH World Entertainment Writer 10/28/00What price are you willing to pay for intellectual freedom -- especially if you are unsure that your thoughts are your own?
That's the question cleverly examined in "Largo Desolato," an amusing farce about government oppression and censorship put on by the players of Theater Club, a new theater troupe that bears watching after making an impressive debut.
Thursday's opening performance featured top-notch acting, tight direction, creative lighting and a wonderful set design.
Leopold Nettles (played superbly by Craig Walter), a professor and political dissident in an unknown land, has been charged with disturbing the intellectual peace, thanks to a single paragraph in an essay he wrote. The government, through its secret police, is pressing him to recant. Nettles is paralyzed by fear and paranoia, and it is unclear how long it has been since he changed out of his robe and pajamas and left the confines of his home.
The professor is constantly harassed by those closest to him -- a friend pontificates on the "mess" that Leopold has made of his life; a young lover badgers him to more clearly define their relationship; two "fans" pressure him to take initiative because "a lot of people are looking to you."
And, of course, there are the government agents who offer him a way out: deny writing the problematic passage by, in effect, denying that he is Leopold Nettles. But then who is he? And is this all in his mind?
The manic series of events, the mechanical manner of his guests, the repetition of maxims and the existentialist nature of the time element serve to ensure that the confusion continues to build for Leopold, and sometimes the audience as well.
Walter is in his element as he plays the professor as a jangly bundle of nerves.
Christian Neeman and Angela Adams are fantastic in the showy roles of Sidney and Sidney, the ultra-peppy and over bearing groupies in their monochromatic suits, pressuring Leopold to give their lives direction and meaning.
"Largo Desolato" continues with 8 p.m. performances Saturday and next Thursday, Friday and Nov. 4. Tickets are $6 and $8 and are available by calling Theater Club at 857-9154.
Michael Smith, World entertainment writer, can be reached at 581-8474 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.