by Walter Ruff
Natural Theatricals is the theatre company in residence at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, VA and a wonderful residence it is. This setting is perfect for the classical Greek productions that are it’s mission. Herakles is based on Archibald MacLeish’s verse-play. The play is an artistic statement on the 60’s cold war and it’s effects on the social fabric of society. A Nobel Prize winning scientist sets out on an Athenian holiday with his wife and daughter to soak in the history and culture that has always intrigued him. The first act is dominated by rage, anger and frustration during a highly emotional fight with the scientist and his seemingly equally frustrated wife. After a major set change, we enter the second act, which depicts a group tour of some of Athens’s ruins. The family happens upon Herakles searching for redemption of past debacles. He arrives to visit the oracle and finds his wife waiting for him. What ensues is a social commentary on where we came from and where we are headed.
I will refrain from going into detail about the opening night problems Natural Theatricals had on this warm, balmy night; what I will say, however, is that they were substantial. It is difficult to say if the uneven performances by the cast were due to the script, the direction, or maybe a combination of both. John Tweel shines as Herakles and Maryanne Mosher gave an equally good performance as his wife. Unfortunately, on this particular evening, there were quite a few problems with the set and lighting that I am confident will be corrected, hopefully by mid run. Natural Theatricals is a very talented theatre company, far better than this opening night would indicate. If you venture out to Alexandria to take in a night of classically themed theatre, it is my belief you will be pleased with the experience.
Written by Archibald MacLeish Directed by Rip Claassen Music composed by Brad White and Pierre Grill Set Design and Costumes: Trena Weiss-Null Photos by Stan Barouth Cast: Margaret Contreras, Deborah Rinn Critzer, Caroline Gotschall, Kate Hundley, Maryanne Mosher, Bruce Alan Rauscher, James Senavitis, John Tweel.