by EMILY MEISLER, guest reviewer
After exiting the Saturday night production of Red Resurrected, I turned to my friend who accompanied me to the production and asked, “So, what did you think?”
“It was good.” She smiled politely. “It was well done….but I’m not a theater person.”
There are some beautiful moments in Red Resurrected, a creative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but one shouldn’t have to be a “theater person” to enjoy a show. Like the Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, another recent production by Transatlantic Love Affair, Red Resurrected was originally conceived for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. And as a fringe show it was quite impressive; writer Isabel Nelson’s direction allowed the actors to conjure an entire rural community using only their bodies and voices. But in its current iteration, which runs a little less than an hour and a half, Red Resurrected seems more like an acting conservatory’s attempt to showcase its actors than a fully conceived production.
One problem is the pacing of the story. Most of the show lingers in the setup rather than the execution; more than half of the show is over before Red even enters the forest. Despite the time spent on characterization, Red, a young orphaned girl, still feels hastily drawn. As Red grows older, some vignettes, like a humorous moment when Red and her friends avoid their chores, are fun but ultimately unnecessary to the core conflict. The time spent on Red’s early childhood left me wondering if Nelson was too reluctant to cut her own script, perhaps unable to see the redundancy– a problem often faced by writers who direct their own work.
Unfortunately the story does not further develop as Red enters the woods, and the simplistic tale takes a bizarre twist as it attempts to use the woods as a metaphor for female sexuality. Nelson’s metaphor doesn’t ever feel fully explained or explored. While some scenes took my breath away – like a heart-stopping few minutes in which the audience becomes witness to sub-par medical care for a young woman – a meandering script and overindulgent directing undermine the talented cast.
Still, don’t discount Transatlantic Love Affair’s work, even you non “theater people” out there. This is a Twin Cities company to watch as they continue to refine their art.
Red Resurrected, conceived and directed by Isabel Nelson. At the Illusion Theater, Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 8th Floor, 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. February 8 – March 2, 2013. Tickets: $15-$20. Box office: 612-339-4944 or www.illusiontheater.org