The Pointless Theatre collaborators are skilled adaptors of familiar stories. Using a unique visual approach to theater and storytelling, the company finds the pulse points, the underlying heart beats of each story, and finds fresh ways to bring it all to the stage. They accomplished this with Sleeping Beauty, Minnie the Moocher, Imogen, and now they take on the silent film classic, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights,
Visions of Love is their tribute to one of the most visionary artists in American film and his 130 year old legacy. Kerry McGee is the ultimate charmer playing the Tramp with verve and style, balancing on her heels, with athletic grace, facial expressions galore. McGee covers all of the emotions with striking comedic precision, almost channeling the Great one. What she can do with a furrowed brow, sideways glance, even spin and pivot as she’s being chased is stunningly good.
Sharalys Silva has a tender appeal as the Blind Woman, lovingly stroking her flowers, straining to understand the unseen world around her. Silva’s movements and expressions are achingly beautiful with angelic translucency. The Tramp takes one look at her and is smitten beyond belief – it’s easy to see why. Once he discovers her dire financial straits, he shifts from his vagabond ways and attempts to settle down and find a way to help her.
Puppets by Alex Vernon are life-sized with swiveling heads and upper partial torso with hands and delicate fingers that reach out and touch, each using one, two or even three handlers to perform all the movements. They magically take on personalities of their characters.
Visions of Love
closes February 9, 2019
Details and tickets
The flower shop keeper who hires (and fires) the Tramp from his menial job is prim and proper. The alcohol-prone millionaire is a hoot – classically attired, flamboyantly generous one minute, then crawling down drunk and, once he hits his head, totally unaware of his donated largess. The crap-shooting newspaper selling ruffian is one of my favorites – you can almost hear his snarky laugh as he pings the Tramp with spitballs with a shrug that says, hey, I can’t help it. It’s what I do.
The show captures all the Keystone Cop elements wheeling miniature cars around like carts, uniformed to the max (costumes by Frank Labovitz.) Speaking of costumes, the opening showcases some marvelous workmanship with a performer as a statue dressed in fabric that really looks like gray molten metal.
The artistic directors share a nostalgia for the stories and stylistics of the silent film era and it shows.What this troop does interweaving movement and the music is a marvel. In one segment the Tramp engages in a boxing match to make some money (and oh, the thug/trainer puppet who ropes him in to this no-winner situation is a scowling wonder). The Tramp shuffles with the opponent played by John Reynolds with Scott Whalen between the two as a referee in a winning three-some. There are many perfectly timed moments that fly by in whiffs of fantasy. Some make you laugh out loud, others are actually tear-worthy.
Michael Winch’s sound design transports you to the period with vintage songs, including “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”—which is alarmingly poignant today. Props by Amy Kellet include a large shiny Victrola that the puppets wind up to enjoy the music. That the music was composed by Chaplin himself reflects the multifaceted genius of the artist who wrote, performed, and directed his legendary works.
The clever set by co-scenic designers Patti Kalil and Frank Labovitz is a standup passageway with large cut out makeshift windows and embedded benches, versatile for an added perspective and perfect to lean out of to adjust pillows.. Brittany Shemuga does wonders with lighting, going from bustling bright to reflective and somber as the characters progress along their journeys.
Director Matt Reckeweg assures a sense of playful wonder to the moments in Visions of Love. He and the artistic designers bring out the delicacy of a touch and the healing power of a gaze, even coming from their puppets—it works! In today’s fast paced flurry of a world where we zoom by each other at neck-breaking speed often going nowhere fast, Visions of Love reminds us to stop and actually, literally smell the flowers like the sweet protagonists do.
Visions of Love . Director— Matt Reckeweg . Cast: Kerry McGee, Sharalys Silva, Vanessa Chapoy; Lee Gerstenhaber, Jon Reynolds, Eirin Stevenson, Scott Whalen . Sound Designer – Michael Winch . Lighting Designer— Brittany Shemuga . Co-Scenic Designers– Patti Kalil and Frank Labovitz . Costumes – Julie Cray Leong . Choreography by Ryan Sellers . Puppet Designer– Alex Vernon . Props Designer—Amy Kellet . Production Stage Manager— Hayden Morrissett . Assistant Stage Manager—Thomas Nagata . Music composed by Charlie Chaplin . Produced by Pointless Theatre Company . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.