Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Talking Heads 2

Masterful acting highlights ‘TALKING HEADS 2’ at Beck

Dorothy Silver, who is appearing in ‘TALKING HEADS 2’ at Beck Center, is the reigning grande dame of Cleveland Theatre. Robert Hawks, who is also appearing in the show, is a competent actor. The duo are superb in this production.

Alan Bennett, the author of the Tony Award winning ‘THE HISTORY BOYS,’ which recently had a successful production at Beck, is also the author of ‘TALKING HEADS,’ a series of dramatic monologues written for the BBC. It has also been adopted for live theatre.

‘PLAYING SANDWICHES’ centers on Wilfred, a reformed pedophile living under a false identity and working as a much-praised maintenance man in a public park. However, as a superior begins to pressure him for bureaucratic historical information to include in his personnel file, the pressure causes Wilfred to resume his old ways with horrifying results. Incarcerated, he contemplates his condition, remarking, “It's the one part of my life that feels right... and that's the bit that's wrong.”

Robert Hawkes, who stars in ‘PLAYING SANDWICHES,’ is well directed by Curt Arnold. Hawkes sucks us in as we watch him fight against his tendencies, making us believe and even hope that he will be able to control his desires. As his resolve breaks down, however, we watch as Hawkes’ face and body virtually collapse. This is an excellent performance.

In ‘WAITING FOR A TELEGRAM,’ Violet, an elderly woman in a nursing home has been told she will soon be receiving a telegram from the Queen in honor of her one hundredth birthday. This news triggers in Violet a memory of a telegram which brought news of death on a battlefield, the death of her young lover. Violet gets even more confused when she finds out that her favorite nurse, a gay man has recently died of AIDS. Violet’s present is bleak, her future is bleaker.

Under the adept direction of Reuben Silver, Dorothy Silver completely captivates. This, and her performance earlier this year as Golda Meir in Actors’ Summit’s ‘GOLDA’S BALCONY,’ are two of the finest local female acting gigs of the year. Silver doesn’t act Violet, she is Violet. She brushes wisps of gray hair off her face, displays obstinacy as the world around her becomes frustrating, holds imaginary hands with her male nurse, pounds on the radiator with a spoon when she becomes confused. This is a superb performance.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘TALKING HEADS 2’ is one of those special evenings of theatre. In 90 minutes, including intermission, Hawkes and Silver give a lesson on what good acting is all about! This is a must see!