Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Manor by Kathrine Bates

by Joe Straw

The Manor, now in it’s 8th year, is a remarkable achievement! An experience you cannot imagine and captivating from one moment to the next. Written by Kathrine Bates and directed by Beverly Olevin. This Theatre 40 production, in association with The City of Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Department, wants you to experience the lives of the rich and famous. Follow them throughout the mansion as corruption and greed devours their livelihood and their lives come crumpling down upon them.

The set is the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills (now a park) positioned high up in the hills overlooking the City of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, California. Not too far from anywhere in the city and the parking is free.

Walking down the opulent steps, waters streams down rock-strewn falls into a beautiful koi pond where turtles bask in the afternoon sun. This beautiful walkway takes you to the backside of Greystone Mansion and immediately, gazing upon the mansion, you feel that something inside has gone horribly wrong.

The ghosts still walk the grounds pleading for you to come inside and pay witness to the tragedy. And then, slowly the characters appear, illuminating shadows from the 1920’s that brings to life that which has long since past.

The Valet, Richard Large, introduces us to the tragedy about to unfold and unfold it does. Each character is strikingly different and special in their desires.

Oil baron, Charles MacAlister (Darby Hinton) and his wife Marion MacAlister (Kathrine Bates) are hosting a wedding reception for their son Sean MacAlister (Michael Piscitelli) and his new wife Abby MacAlister (Nicole McCloud). Abby’s father and MacAlister’s lawyer, Frank Parsons, Esq. (Michael Bonnabel) is there enjoying the moment. Also there is Senator Alfred Winston (Daniel Leslie) and his charming wife Cora Winston (Melanie MacQueen).

Charles announces to the wedding guests that he is giving the 46,000 square foot mansion to his son and his new bride and wants them to immediately fill the home with children.

Senator Winston, sensing a weak moment, pulls Charles MacAlister into the next room to discuss money matters.

Abby, happily married, is suddenly startled by the appearance of her handyman, Gregory Pugh (Jeremiah Dupre). She introduces this mysterious man to her husband, Sean. Secretly, Abby has more than a passing interest in Gregory unbeknownst to Sean who also takes an immediate liking to Greg. Greg introduces his rambunctious new wife Henrietta Havesham (Amy Tolsky) to both of them.

Behind closed doors, Senator Winston speaks to MacAlister about a $100,000 loan he needs in exchange for very lucrative mining rights and the rights to build Naval Bases on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. MacAlister, hesitant at first, is corrupted by untold riches and the power this could bring the family.

Marion, in front of Abby, pulls Sean out of their honeymoon bedroom to join the guests in the next room where Sean is instructed by his father to leave his bride that night, deliver the $100,000 to Senator Winston in Washington D.C., and take Gregory along for protection.

This sets the stage for the unspeakable catastrophe about to unfurl. It is an uncompromising experience of lust, greed, and murder played out behind closed doors of The Manor.

This is a remarkable cast. Professional in every sense of the word and dedicated in craft. Some roles have multiple cast members but judging from the superior quality you will have a very good time no matter what day you attend.

Each cast member provides a special quality to this production: Bates as Marion is the powerful matriarch, Hinton as Charles MacAlister gives us strength, Bonnabel as Parson, Esq., stability, Piscitelli as Sean young idealism, McCloud as Abby life’s temptation, Dupre as Gregory dangerous encounters, Leslie as Senator Winston ideal imperialism and greed, and MacQueen as Cora, loyalty.

Tolsky was delightful as Henrietta Havensham, providing fun to everyones dreary lives almost to excess.

The servants did a good job in directing us from one room to the next while still staying in character and giving us updates on behind the scenes matters. They were Ursula, the housekeeper (Nina Borisoff), Ellie, the maid (Esther Levy Richman) and Large as James, the valet.

The indefatigable Bates has written a very good play, episodic in tone, and delightful in structure. Wonderfully directed by Beverly Olevin as she moves the characters through this stately mansion to their demise.

Loosely based on the life of Edward L. Doheny, the Greystone Mansion was built for his son, Ned Doheny, whose death along with his secretary by gunshot has remained a mystery for many years.

(2009) November: 7, 8, 14, 15, and 21

(2010) Jan. 9, 10, 16, 17 • Feb. 13, 14, 27, 28 • Mar 27, 28

For information and reservations call (310) 694-6118

1 comment:

  1. Daniel Euergetes read this blog. This post did draw me into it. You'd be an excellent novelist because of the kind of detail you include in your writing! This reminds me of Masterpiece Theater. If I lived in the area, I might be interested in going to this production.

    ...Now that I figured out how to post a comment to this blog