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Singer/Songwriter showcase also features Sneaky Pete, Nervous Dwayne, and Gardenia Moon, followed by open mic
Rebirth Brass Band
Crescent City Farmers Market
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Free organ every Tuesday night from one of the city’s premiere classical musicians
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Hi-Ho Lounge (8:00PM)
Weekly Wed Gig- from the street to the stage. Midnight Snax throwdown follows at 10pm.
dba (7:00 PM)
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Weekly Wed Gig- Pass on by and see the 6th Ward’s home band.
Little Gem Saloon (5:00PM)
Traditional Blues, Gospel, and R&B in the CBD
Snug Harbor (8:00PM)
Delfeayo Marsalis’ award-winning orchestra
Come see the in-demand bassist perform with his own band tonight
Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers
Les Bon Temps Roule (10:00 PM)
Candlelight Lounge (8:00PM)
Shake your brass in the Treme with a blend of hip hop, R&B, and pop
Maple Leaf (8:00PM)
One of New Orleans’ best percussionist invites his friends to the stage
PubliQ House (9:30PM)
Brass with electric guitar and keyboard
Visiting Hours: A Facing the Stage Review
At the world premiere of David Caudle's Visiting Hours, NoDef Theatre Critic Jim Fitzmorris sees the dynamics of a national theatrical conversation play out on the Mid-City Theatre stage.
There is much to celebrate in the world premiere of playwright David Caudle's Visiting Hours at The Mid City Theatre. For New Orleans' audiences, it is a chance to be at the ignition point for the launch of an original work by an up and coming playwright. Adding to this, the work is being produced by Rising Shiners, a new company that has given us quality theatre like last year's The Weir. Featuring four strong female roles, Visiting Hours is aptly timed as it arrives simultaneously with Lauren Gunderson's provocative editorial in The Huffington Post about the need for more plays that speak to theatre's growing female audiences. The production puts New Orleans on the right side of the table for this important conversation about the theatrical art and the form, new work, that is its principal lifeblood.
Even its failures make it worth attending. The shortcomings of Visiting Hours as both a text and production also open up further discussion about the state of much of playwriting today. Visiting Hours is a play that has yet to find its full voice, and this production serves to highlight that work-in-progress feel. Directed by Ann Mahoney Kadar, Visiting Hours tells the story of the financially-strapped, lesbian couple Marian and Beth and their struggles in dealing with the reckless behavior of Marian's biological son Paul. Living under the graces of their gregarious landlord Nat, the couple is forced to make tough decisions about their future together with the unexpected arrival of Paul and his unstable girlfriend Shelly.
Kadar's staging of Caudle's family drama about the limits of love does no disservice to the piece, because it presents the text in matter-of-fact style that allows the play to stand on its own merits. There are few, if any, directorial sleight-of-hands employed. The production focuses on the writing and gives just enough of a set and light design, by Roger Grissom and Su Gonczy respectively, to give it a first class feel. Ultimately, this production is about Caudle's play not Kadar's directorial skills. And I mean that as a compliment.
However, in choosing not to hide or solve the textual dilemmas with the staging, the production also exposes the play as a story that is too big for the form in which Caudle has crammed it. Visiting Hours feels likes it wants to be something more than it is. What is fascinating is those previous sentences could be applied with equal argument to numerous contemporary plays that New Orleans has been fortunate enough to see in the past few years. Orange Flower Water, Becky Shaw, Sick, The Clean House, and Dying City are all plays which seem to be lacking a final kick that would propel them from good solid evenings of theatre into something more thunderous, more lingering. I suspect much of it has to do with a national trend that has playwrights nagged by an insidious theatrical economy. That economy insists on minimizing casts and consolidating production considerations sometimes at the expense of the heart of the writer's concerns. It is a sort of capitalist Neoclassicism where one too many characters or settings could cost you a production. Cardinal Richelieu is a well meaning Artistic Director, Producer or Literary Manager who wants to help you realize your baby. Just not at the cost of his or her annual budget.
The production itself is solid in that it clearly tells Caudle's story by moving from beat to beat with crisp pacing before snapping snugly into the text's conclusion. It does not obfuscate the thematics or plot points, and most rewardingly, features a weather-beaten, terrific performance by Tari Hohn as Marian's life partner Beth. Hohn is both running on fumes and resilient without commenting on her character. She is a woman calling on deep, final reserves of love and strength in weary support of a woman in an increasingly untenable situation. Take the time to watch her incredulity at her lover's unwillingness to accept the truth about her son. It is a play unto itself. Hohn performance is a neat trick, because along with its emotional reality, it becomes the conduit for audience access into the proceedings. As per Caudle's design, we see the play through her eyes, and we are the sadder for it.
That being said, the solidity of presentation also exposes the incompleteness of Visiting Hours. It is too neat, too tidy of a script that resolves issues often with relative speed and limited pain, and certain of Kadar's choices only amplify that. With the notable exception of Hohn's Beth, too many of the acting choices feel of first instinct and do not always match from performer to performer. For instance, Becki Davis nails Marian's frayed, motherly nerves, but the writing does not give her enough room to show what Beth sees in her in the first place. The actress plays only the note she has been given, and in doing so, she and the playwright leave too many questions unanswered about Visiting Hours' central relationship. Futhermore, there is an alarming lack of physicalized business, day-to-day reality, in the production. It reduces blocking patterns to chess moves made for the sake of visual balance rather than organically motivated impulse. Lacking that visual reality, the production becomes more blueprint than fully realized whole.
Part of what is really missing from both script and production is danger. Neither Nick Thompson nor Jesse Terrebone Thompson, as the dopamine deficient couple, is threatening enough physically or emotionally to prevent the production from drifting into a paint-by-numbers rising action approach. Their feints towards decency seem to spring from actual decency rather than the cunning of addicts with borderline personality disorders. So when Thompson's Paul exposes the darkness at his core towards Visiting Hours' conclusion, it feels more a contrivance of plot than a carefully laid trap. The couple comes off as good kids gone bad rather than resentful, entitled agents of chaos. Their performances are so sympathetic as to make the play seem more about them than its actually is.
I do not believe local diva Becky Allen's casting as Nat, the feminist Falstaff of a landlord, was conceived as a stunt. However, the conception of the performance by Allen and Kadar turns it into precisely that. Miss Allen work is in an entirely different play. It is less a matter of not having the skill set, she does and there are flashes to be seen, but more an instance of an actor being allowed to indulge habits such as cheating out, featuring lines, and playing for laughs. It ends up working against the desired effect of creating a ferocious corpulence of life to counter the mounting despair around her. Her technique is so jarring that it mutes both the emotional wallop and barbed laughs contained in her character.
And yet, like Kadar's directing, Allen's style of acting ends up providing an understanding for what is missing from Visiting Hours. Allen's performance never lacks for clarity, and focusing on her words, I found myself hoping she would say more. I wanted her to say more about the economic circumstance that created the world of the play, lament more about the difficulty in preventing relationships from dissolving into transience, or offer more of a potent worldview that characters such as her are given in plays. Visiting Hours seems caught in the shadowy landscape of the cottage house where it is set. It is not sure if it wants to settle on being a chamber piece about small people with big problems or if it will reach for something larger, more vibrant, more lasting. There are whispers of some of Lanford Wilson's best work lurking in the text. It is a case of a play gasping for oxygen in a closed system. Caudle need only indulge the world he has created by opening it up. It is his play, not mine, so I will leave those ambitions to him. However, if he and his collaborators seize upon them, they may end up creating just the sort of work for which Ms. Gunderson is hoping.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
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