The Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park was a very nice little theatre although getting to it in the pouring rain and the dark proved to be a real challenge. I had my GPS, but it was all one way streets and I kept getting turned around even though I could see the playhouse from the road. I eventually did manage to find the entrance and park.
There are two stages at this playhouse and I'm assuming the one this was staged at was the smaller of the two venues. It was an extremely intimate little theatre, with seats arranged on three sides of the floor. There was no "formal" stage as it were. I had a seat in the center section, with only one row in front of me and even with that, I felt I was "in" the play, that's how close it all was.
I know the play has been getting mixed reviews, but I completely enjoyed it. And not just because SC was in it. If it stages at some point in the future here at Syracuse Stage, I'd go see it with or without him in it. It was a sweet and sad story about a world renowned cellest who dies much too young at the age of 58. It follows a reviewer who gets it in his head that all her recordings (of which there are legion considering she had 27 CDs) were comprised of stolen music. What makes it all the more tragic was just as she finally gets discovered and signs with Sony, she is diagnosed with COPD, which would cut her life so short.
So the reviewer- Jeremy, sets out to prove his theory, having never liked her music to begin with. It would become his obsession and would lead to his losing his stature, his job and even putting his health at risk in what appears to be a fruitless quest. Having given up, he sells everything he has and is returning to America when he hits upon an idea.
There are clues given throughout the play as to whether Victoria Wedlan had indeed stolen all that music. I didn't realize them until the end when it all came together with the answer. Some reviews have said the ending was flat- I think they missed the point of the play.
The play was simple and beautiful. SC plays Jonathon, Victoria's adoring and frumpy husband. He's sweet and supportive and loves his wife right up to her death, and vehemently defends her against the accusations that her music was not her own but instead stolen. But as the journey goes forward, even Jonathan is coming to doubts as he remembers key moments together with his wife that leads him to questions as well. He was a CPA, his family owning a vineyard. He even had a wine made and named for his wife- Victoria Musica. There are great scenes where he's dressed in sandals, a plaid shirt and a goofy had that are staged mostly in the vineyards. He is believable in this grief for his wife, how lost he is without her and how he continues to champion her against the accusations.
In the end, Victoria Wedlan didn’t steal the music, although indeed, large portions of it were not her own. It was her producer she used when she signed with Sony. He did it without her knowledge. In the last days of her life, she had a clue when her husband was playing “her” music, but she insisted it was one of her former students. It was indeed that student’s.
The reviewer, in his quest discovers a few things about himself and about Victoria. That the music he did review and never cared for, was never her’s to begin with, but any number of unknown musicians that never made it and had their CDs tossed in the bargain bins of various stores. Before Victoria had signed with Sony, before she was discovered, she had made four CDs, produced by her husband for a small label that never made it. This, was, HER music and when Jeremy listened to it, he realized that the real Victoria Wedlan was indeed one of the greatest cellists alive.
It was a simple and well done production. There was almost no props really but for a large glass case where three cellos where displayed. These were used in the backdrop of the Wedlan’s home. The chemistry between SC and the actress was excellent, it was playful and delightful before she fell ill. Loving and supportive the sicker she got. Jeremy was well done by a young actor who really ran with the role, I had to say.
So, was it worth it for me to go all the way to Cincinnati by myself? Absolutely. LOL. Not only did I see a great play and SC in a great role, but I met two lovely ladies who were seated next to me and who were sweet enough let me follow them back to the main highway so that I wasn’t crashing around the neighborhood trying to find my way back.
I also got to enjoy, even if abbreviated, a nice visit with Kallie as I staged the bulk of my driving from her home, thus knocking a two and a half hours off my drive time both ways.