nytheatre.com review by Anthony Nelson
July 15, 2006
Hank Hivnor's Emerald Crest, a "psychotic episodic soap opera" which promises to "shock even the most jaded" theatregoer, is unevenly acted, under-directed, and generally quite a bit of fun. The plot centers on the island resort of Emerald Crest, which is run by Esmeralda Dubois (Hivnor). Guests at her island include socialite Marge Kabarge (Julia Funk), who is waiting to be joined by her sailor fiancé Archie (Steve Smith). Archie is exploring his physical attraction to Tex (a hilariously committed Garry Hannon) on board ship, but winds up on the island due to a series of complications involving a storm and a salacious mermaid (Troy Carson).
The bulk of the evening explored the sexual entanglements of numerous characters, few of whom seemed to care about the gender, or species for that matter, of the party they were interested in. Each performance of the show is a new episode, and I'm sure this contributed to many of the actors needing to call for lines from time to time. The production has been appearing weekly at Art Land Bar, and seems to still be adjusting to a new space. Many of the actors seemed unsure of the environment, sticking to the back of the playing space and not turning out. A number of scenes involved the actors simply clustered at the back of the stage talking to each other.
There are a few standouts in the cast, though, including J.B. Rote as a scientist in love with a Sasquatch (they express their love quite graphically and humorously), Bridget Michael as a scantily-clad Brooklyn maid who is pretending to be French for some reason, and the chameleon-like Damien Corrado, who was excellent in three roles. Hivnor's convoluted plot is hard to follow, but includes a number of laugh-out-loud witticisms and some atrocious puns.
I believe Hivnor is also responsible for the scenic design, which makes an impressive use of minimal resources to transform a small space into an island paradise. Spencer Chakedis's sound design sets the tone for the production perfectly, although I could have used a little more music to cover some dead spots. Matthew Flower's costumes are fabulous, in particular the one he wore as a tree that swayed gently in the breeze and chewed gum.
I think the play could benefit from a little more rehearsal and finding a way to cut down or cover the many scene transitions, which tend to bring the momentum to a halt. And although it wasn't too difficult to pick up the threads of the plot, future audience members might benefit from the inclusion of a "Last Time on Emerald Crest" introduction to the piece. Emerald Crest is not the most polished show I've ever seen, but the company seems to be having a ton of fun, and most of the time I did too.