Wednesday, April 7, 2010

review - ACTING The First Six Lessons

Acting The First Six Lessons
one act play by Beau & Emily Bridges
based on Richard Boleslavsky's classic book
directed by Charlie Mount
Theatre West
through May 16

Acting The First Six Lessons gifts to theatregoers a rare opportunity to see a famous actor/father and budding star actress/daughter live onstage together. The illustrious Beau Bridges and daughter Emily have spent the better part of two years piecing together a soulful story about acting and living through the activities of Richard Boleslavsky's book. The resultant work of art @ Theatre West is a beautifully written and acted gem for the theatre community and world at large.

Under Charlie Mount's loving direction The Bridges create a very intimate story of a teacher and student of acting, circa 1933, and trace the development of their relationship over five years. We see the student (Emily Bridges) blossom under the tutelage of the master teacher (Beau Bridges), from her floundering and insecure initial audition, to an actress of consummate poise and stature as she follows her teacher's insistence on Boleslavsky's six steps: concentration, memory of emotions (sense memory), dramatic action, characterization, observation and rhythm. The scenes involving each are richly evocative of daily living. Take, for example, the student's aunt who visits the teacher's studio for tea to check on her niece's progress. Ms Bridges creates a stuffy, pompous character who can gossip in minute detail about the atrocities of other ladies' apparel. The teacher, pulling her into his world via a little game, tells her that an actor can make the very same observations...but silently. He proceeds to replicate every movement of her pouring a cup of tea for him without saying a word and challenges her to do the same. This is but one instance of an absolutely delicious humor conveyed throughout the 90 minutes. Actors will relish the subtleties from moment to moment, but even those outside the profession will delight in their candor. Life's lessons from which everyone may glean at least
a particle of truth!

Beau Bridges is at the top of his form, like a wise prophet who has been cautiously taught. Emily is so captivating at every turn. It is simply beautiful to watch her grow into Ophelia after being given some simple directions on how to change her character's movements and intentions.

Both actors listen intently to one another, challenge each another and over the course of the brief time that we see them, solidify an intensely bonded relationship....kind of like a father and daughter, which is what we have in real life. Art imitates life, and life imitates art. The two become lovingly intertwined.
A very stimulating and uniquely entertaining evening of theatre not to be missed!
5 out of 5 stars

Runs in rep with The Life and Times of A. Einstein Fridays at 8pm and Sunday matinees at 2pm @ Theatre West through May 16.

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