This week in Theater
Written by Joni Ravenna
Review by Rose Desena
My last two reviews were funny, mainly because the shows were pretty hysterical so this week I successful went for something a little more dramatic. Beethoven and the Misfortune Cookies certainly fits the bill.
Kabin Thomas, a musician and professor of music at the University of Arkansas, is an interesting character Intrigued by DNA, he talks about the positives and negatives of our inherited DNA with such a passion its like listening to an art critic discussing canvas’ at a gallery.
His non-conventional teaching methods allow for his creative side to shine. He mixes historical studies with the composers and singers he admires. Mostly artists whose talents made musical history against the odds. He teases us with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony composed while he was deaf further solidifying his messages on inherited talent and misfortunes. However, it was his raw language and his intellectual mix of politics along with his discussions that sadly led to his dismissal from the University.
A student complained about his photos of two men that were hung to death in the town square that inspired Billy Holliday to sing “Strange fruit” a song dear to him. During the first act, the audience was held pleasantly captive by the music and the talent of Ernest Harden Jr. as Kabin Thomas, and he is perfectly cast as this character.
Act One said it all. The play could have carried on from there with an additional 15 minutes, and that would have been a great story. However, Joni Ravenna (writer) didn’t end it there, she added Act Two.
In the second Kabin, being haunted by his demons and the idea of his father’s DNA, he moves to Los Angeles to seek fame in Hollywood, he is cast in a TV reality show that does real time therapy sessions on the air. Desperate for something to do he accepts and begins a journey of self-loathing and discovery. He goes deep into emotional hell taking a painful look at the legacy of his farther and himself. Although very interesting, the second act just didn’t play well with the first act and it just didn’t work for me. It lacked cohesiveness, and I was confused. It seemed like it was part of another play altogether. Harden is brilliant as he pours himself onto the stage in emotional rage and confusion struggling for answers, but to no fault of Hardens the whole act dragged. I was beginning to feel exhausted by the dialog.
The story does come to a conclusion but some of it was lost. I think the story has potential and Ernest Harden was the right actor for the role. T. J. Catronovo (Director) worked well with Harden, and their Actor’s Studio training comes through. It takes three components to make a great play, the first being a really good script; I think Ravenna is cutting herself short by not doing a little re-writing on this project. It has a lot of potential and his life at the university and teaching methods make for good conversation.
Writer: Joni Ravenna
Cast: Ernest Harden Jr.
Director: T.J. Castronovo
Saterday @ 8pm, Sunday @3pm until September 15th.
The Met Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Street, LA, Ca. 90029
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