Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What the Critics Had to Say about Sympathetic Magic


Quietly and unobtrusively, Marigny Theatre continues to improve. I'm not talking about the productions themselves. Those have to be judged individually. The auditorium, however, has evolved over the past few years from a dance room behind a bar to an attractive little playhouse with cabaret seating -- not to mention scallop shell lamps on the exposed wooden pillars, decorative swaths of fabric, eight spotlights and a proscenium curtain that works smoothly. It's come a long way, baby.

The most recent outing at the theatre was To Do Productions' staging of Lanford Wilson's Sympathetic Magic, which won a 1996-97 Obie award. Magic gives us a San Francisco cauldron boiling with emotional and philosophical complications.

The philosophical conundrums, for the most part, center on the mystery of the universe. We get an oppositional tension between science and faith as a way of confronting that mystery. But neither the religious nor the astrophysical impulses come through free and clear. Both are clouded by that equally mysterious universe that lies within. ...

All in all, Sympathetic Magic was a worthwhile, ambitious project. Don McDonald directed and designed the lights as well. His lighting and simplified staging helped keep this complex tale from bogging down. ...

The cast was game and did a commendable job, though almost any production would be doomed to unevenness by the extraordinary demands of the script. Nonetheless -- with this New Orleans premiere -- To Do gave us a welcome opportunity to see one of the less frequently performed plays of a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

- Dalt Wonk, Gambit Weekly, 02/20/2007

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