When Las Vegas Little Theatre announced its second streaming production, I was prepared this time and managed to get my Smart TV to wise up. Ah, so much better than squinting at a 15” computer monitor.
“Rogues’ Gallery” is a collection of bizarre, dark, humorous monologues from the mind of Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley, whose “Doubt” also won the Tony Award for best play. These short pieces were culled together by Shanley in June, during this year of the pandemic.
Consider plays like this the royalty houses’ way of trying to entice production companies and playwrights into accepting what everyone appears to be calling our “new normal.” It’s rather about time they helped theatre figure out a way to stay solvent. Though, the royalty fee seems counterproductive to that unless there’s a wealthy patron who has been standing by; at least for a local community company.
The overall arc of the monologues is subtle: We’ve all dealt with the rogue, the person who has treated us poorly. In hindsight, we can look on these people and, perhaps, find humor in the situation we allowed ourselves to be put in (“Unknown Caller,” performed by Kris Mayeshiro). Sometimes it’s more difficult to deal with, (“Drive,” performed by Nicole Unger). And, sometimes, if we’re able to admit it, the rogue is us (“The Choreographer’s Hand,” Glen Heath).
Directors Gillen Brey and Walter Niejadlik assembled eleven actors, placed them in a back alley setting, changing the viewing angle and adding different elements, which works for some pieces, though not all. For instance, Lockdown, which is performed by Brey, a window has been added to infer an inside location. What doesn’t work about that is the same brick façade visible through and around the window. In the actual theatre, lighting can better isolate.
The toughest part of watching these was trying to feel some connection to the characters. The recent production of locally-written “Quarantine Monologues” fared much better. Here, everything felt shallow, as if the needed intimacy wasn’t captured by the camera.
The sound needed to be modulated. There were lines loud enough to cause distortion (“Drive,” with Nicole Unger, “I Was Right About Everything,” performed by Geo Nichols), and lines spoken so softly (“The Choreographer’s Hand,” Glen Heath) that were barely picked up by the microphone.
Be that as it may, this is a new way of doing things. There are bound to be learning curves galore as companies try to deal with the technological challenges of streaming productions where actors cannot be on a stage together, and audiences cannot be seated in the venue containing the stage.
Visit lvlt.org for more information about Las Vegas Little Theatre.