The House of Blue Leaves
Sometimes it seems as though theater gremlins are out to sabotage a particular performance. For the opening night of City Theatre’s The House of Blue Leaves, the gremlins chose the lighting system. For the first half of the production, the stage lights flickered on and off every couple of minutes. After intermission, director David Harris explained that they were having technical difficulties, so the house lights were raised. The performance went on without stage lighting.
In the spirit of “the show must go on,” the cast proved to be good sports about the bad situation. Both during the flickering lights and the subsequent harsh lighting, the performers hardly skipped a beat. But the rhythms and performances of opening night were still uneven, and it’s hard to determine what effect the technical difficulties had on the overall results.
Adding to the production problems, the cast was saddled with the convoluted script of The House of Blue Leaves. This dark comedic farce by John Guare, the author of the brilliant Six Degrees of Separation, is filled with quirky characters and goofy situations but never really lands anywhere. We have Artie (Michael Saumure), a struggling songwriter and zookeeper waiting for his big break. Bunny Flingus (Kathleen Saumure) is his fast-talking mistress who wants Artie to lock up his crazy wife, Bananas (Lauren Charlesworth). Along the way, we get an invasion of nuns, Artie’s AWOL Army son and a big-time Hollywood producer, all looking for some sort of celebrity spotlight.
We do get a couple of admirable performances, most notably from Michael and Kathleen Saumure. There’s also a wonderfully creative set by Shawn Weinsheink and handsome costumes by Nicole Sivell. Maybe once the gremlins are shaken out, the pace and performances of this production will even out.