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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Sunday, May 04, 2014

REP 2013-14 Season Round-Up

Overall, the University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players had a really solid season in 2013-14 -- a definite uptick from last year's slightly disappointing run.  All five of the shows had their merits and while I didn't love them all, I didn't dislike any of them either.  Oddly enough, the season sort of had an upward trajectory with The Mousetrap, Faust, and Wit ending things on increasingly more enjoyable notes.  Once again, undoubtedly, the REP excelled at all the technical aspects of their productions -- I seriously could've nominated every single play in the Scenic Design category with each having their merits for a win -- and the performers all raised the bar this season as well.

I hope as the announcement for next season comes out, we continue to get the nice mix of more modern the classic plays for the troupe to explore...and I'd love to have a season like the days of yore where more than five plays grace their stage, but I think that's just wishful thinking of a bygone era.

Total Number of Nominations
(# of nominations includes Honorable Mentions)
(Click on titles for links to original review)

Faust -- 5
Wit -- 4

Best Costume Design
Photo by Paul Cerro
Winner -- Matthew LeFebvre - The Night of the Iguana
Honorable Mentions -- Santi Migneco - The Servant of Two Masters; Andrea Barrier - Faust

Best Scenic Design
Photo by Paul Cerro
Winner -- Joseph B. Tilford - The Night of the Iguana
Honorable Mention -- C. David Russell - The Mousetrap

Best Performances
9. Michael Gotch - Wit
8. Mic Matarrese - Faust
7. Elizabeth Heflin - The Mousetrap
6. Mic Matarrese - The Night of the Iguana
5. Lee Ernst - The Servant of Two Masters
4. Erin Partin (guest artist) - The Servant of Two Masters
3. Kathleen Pirkl-Tague - The Mousetrap
2. Sara J. Griffin (guest artist) - Faust
1. Kathleen Pirkl-Tague - Wit

Best Overall Body of Work
Winner -- Kathleen Pirkl-Tague
Photo by the REP
Kathleen Pirkl-Tague has always been my favorite REP cast member for her ability to so effortlessly shift from comedic to dramatic roles, but this year was really her year to shine.  Her role in Wit is one of the best performances I've seen on stage -- not just at the REP, but ever.  Couple that with a humorous turn as a curmudgeonly older lady in The Mousetrap and even a very tiny, though very funny, role as a nasty German in The Night of the Iguana and you've got a well-rounded set of characters this year that she tackled.  Her role in Wit, however, secured her this spot.

Best Direction
Winner -- Heinz-Uwe Haus - Faust
Honorable Mention -- Sanford Robbins - Wit
Photo by the REP
Sanford Robbins effortlessly crafted Wit to flow through its various fourth-wall breaking, flashbacks, and scene changes without missing a beat (along with directing the performance of the season), but Heinz-Uwe Haus created a stunning visual tableau in Faust that I can't deny his placement as the top director of the season.  His rather ingenious ideas elevated this age-old story into something modern-day audiences could really sink their teeth into without feeling as if they were watching something written centuries ago.

Best Overall Production
Winner -- Wit
Honorable Mention -- Faust
Photo by the REP
I've already praised Wit in my review and there isn't much more to say except that I think it's one of the best productions the REP has ever brought to the stage.  A fantastic performance from Kathleen Pirkl-Tague, a modern play that humanizes both a difficult character and a difficult subject, and perfectly suited design elements all meld together to create something that is emotionally involving.  I can't recommend this one highly enough.


  1. Wow I've been going to the REP shows for 6 years and this is the first time I've seen your Reviews. I don't know if I've encountered an opinion so almost completely reversed of my own. Looked at some of your movie reviews and you have some nice analysis there but your theatre opinions are strange. I found "Wit" to be a respectable production of a sub-par and overrated play that hits you over the head with message and thin characters including the lead role rather than engage you on multiple levels and "Faust" to be frankly a dated mess of late-60's theatre styles dressed up as high concept by the director. Still I agree that the group always does strong work but I was generally disappointed in this season and hope the next is stronger. I thought the previous season was much better overall personally.

  2. Well, first off, thanks for reading.

    Second, while I certainly disagree with calling my opinions "strange," I respect your dissent when it comes to my reviews. Different strokes for different folks.

    That being said, I will admit that when it comes to my reviews for the REP, I have a tendency to try and focus on the positive, perhaps sometimes even exaggerating those positives in an effort to try and give a boost to the group. I'd love nothing more than to have the University of Delaware reinstate their PTTP program and return to a ten-play season and if I can even give a tiny little boost, I'll consider my task a success. (That isn't to say I don't point out flaws where I see fit -- see my review of The Homecoming a few seasons ago that got some people riled up.)

    Admittedly, I don't tow the line when it comes to theater -- August: Osage County, as an example, is a play that's loved by many, but failed for me on multiple levels -- but I found Wit to be wonderful, carried by the best performance I've seen by a REP performer in a really long time. I do agree that the play itself was a bit "obvious," but I think it was elevated by Pirkl-Tague.

    Funnily enough, I don't necessarily disagree with your interpretation of "Faust," but perhaps what I enjoyed about that production was that it was a bit of a departure for the REP in terms of style and I found the dated style -- I referenced some 1960/70s horror movies in my review -- a welcome change from the sometimes straight-forward (though solid) stagings we sometimes get from the company.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment. Feel free to return next season with your thoughts!