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Mr. Marmalade

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Six performances of Mr. Marmalade comes to the Lab Theater on August 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. All Lab Theater summer show performances take place on Friday and Saturday nights only, with doors opening at 7:30 and the show starting promptly at 8:00 p.m. Individual tickets and special discount Summer Season Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com by clicking HERE.

In this section, you will find articles about the play, playwright, director and upcoming production of the show at the Laboratory Theater of Florida (posted in date order from oldest to latest).

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‘Mr. Marmalade’ is next Lab Theater production (07-26-14) 

Lab Theater LogoWhile Standing on Ceremony closes tonight, summer season continues at the Laboratory Theater of Florida in August with the production of Laboratory TheaterMr. Marmalade. This dramedy features a four-year-old girl living with her dysfunctional family, but interacting mainly with her creepy imaginary friend, Mr Marmalade. Little Lucy mimics what she sees and hears of adults and tries to make sense of her loneliness until she finally sheds her invisible friend when she meets the little neighbor boy. Poignant and funny, this play will make the audience think about the interior world of children.

Lucy and Marmalade 2“The play conjures in bright Crayola colors the precociously adult mindscape of little Lucy, a pigtailed New Jersey tot whose fantasy companion comes accessorized with personal assistant, bipolar disorder and cocaine problem,” wrote reviewer Charles Isherwood for The New York Times in November of 2005. “The play argues that no child can escape for long the world adults carelessly create with chatter about sex and commitment and issues of self-esteem.

Lucy and Bradley 3As Isherwood notes, there is a long tradition of books and plays going back to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass that explore how adult psychoses and anxiety manifest themselves in the fantasy world of the children who are exposed and infected by their dysfunctional parents, relatives, neighbors and teachers. While many modern playwrights like Christopher Durang and Craig Lucas have found a way to temper their treatment of even violent psychological problems with outrageous and absurd comedy, Mr. Marmalade’s Noah Haidle finds a way to marry these theatrical devices within uniquely bizarre worlds that he alone can construct.

HaidleHaidle is a graduate of Princeton University and The Juilliard School, where he was a Lila Acheson Wallace playwright-in-residence. He is the recipient of three Lincoln Center Lecompte Du Nouy awards, the 2005 Helen Merrill Award for emerging playwrights, the 2007 Claire Tow Award and an NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Grant. He is published by Methuen in London, Suhrkamp in Berlin, and through Dramatists Play Service in New York City. His original screenplay Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, produced by Lionsgate and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, opened in February, 2013. Smokefall opened at South Coast Repertory in April 2013. He is currently working on commissions from Lincoln Center Theater, Yale Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and is set to direct his screenplay The Rodeo Clown, produced by Olive Productions and Mosaic. Mr. Haidle is a proud resident of Detroit.

Sensational Season 6All Lab Theater summer show performances take place on Friday and Saturday nights only. Individual tickets and special discount Summer Season Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com by clicking HERE. The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Avenue (corner of Woodford and 2nd) in downtown Fort Myers. For more information, please telephone 239-218-0481 or visit http://www.laboratorytheaterflorida.com.

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Mr. Marmalade is wry, ironic play about little girl left to own devices by divorced mother and her babysitter (08-13-14)

Mr. Marmalade 1Kidshealth.org says that dkds who view violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior but also fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that elementary Mr. Marmalade 21students who spend more than two hours a day watching TV or using a computer are more likely to have emotional, social and attention problems. Playwright Noah Haidle’s Lucy conjures an imaginary friend to help her process everything she sees and hears on television and from the adults in her world, and Mr. Marmalade beats up his assistant, doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to, has a cocaine habit and is a foul-mouthed workaholic. What are/were your kids’ imaginary friends like?

Stella Ruiz plays Lucy. Trevor Jack is Mr. Marmalade. Ken Bryant directs.

Mr. Marmalade 321Performances of this humorous and ironic play about a little girl left to her own devices by both her divorced mother and her babysitter take place at the Laboratory Theater of Florida at 8 p.m. on August 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30. The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Avenue in the Fort Myers River District. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. except this Friday, when they open at 7:15. Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com or on the theater’s website, www.laboratorytheaterflorida.com, or by calling 239.218.0481. Get your tickets HERE.

[Continue reading, below, to find out about playwright Noah Haidle and director Ken Bryant.]

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Spotlight on ‘Mr. Marmalade’ playwright Noah Haidle (08-07-14)

Rehearsal 11 March 22Lab Theater Artistic Director Annette Trossbach (on left in photo to the right) describes “Mr. Marmalade” as a savage black comedy about the interior world of children. Others have called the play loving, frightening , funny and thought-provoking. The production opens next Friday, August 15, at Lab Theater’s playhouse on the corner of 2nd and Woodford Drive. Doors open at 7:15 p.m., with the actors taking the stage at 8:00 p.m.

“Marmalade” is a product of the imagination of Noah Haidle, a graduate of Princeton University and The Juilliard School, where he was a Lila Acheson Wallace Haidleplaywright-in-residence. He is the recipient of three Lincoln Center Lecompte Du Nouy awards, the 2005 Helen Merrill Award for emerging playwrights, the 2007 Claire Tow Award and an NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Grant. His credits include the Al Pacino-Christopher Walken-Alan Arkin film, “Stand Up Guys”, and “Smokefall,” a magical realism drama that centers around a woman who hopelessly believes in love even though her father is becoming senile, her daughter has stopped speaking and her husband is covertly planning to leave her even though she is about to deliver twin boys, who squabble between themselves in vitro about whether or not it’s a good idea to be born.

Haidle21“If Thornton Wilder had dropped acid, he might have written ‘Smokefall,'” wrote the critic Robert Hofler when the play premiered at the South Coast Repertory in California in 2013.

Haidle enjoys writing surrealist plays that ask big questions and would fail anywhere except on the stage. In fact, Haidle admitted as much during a recent Q&A for “Smokefall.”

Haidle1“I feel like a play is as real as a football game is,” he said. “A football game is not real life. The same with a play—it’s not real life. Film and TV do verisimilitude better than a play ever can. So why pretend? Tell a story that’s impossible to do anywhere else.”

Comic playwright and Haidle mentor Christopher Haidle321Durang agrees that Haidle’s strength is his ability to write stories that flourish on stage if nowhere else. “He has a very wild and playful imagination, and an extremely theatrical one. The plays he thinks of very much belong on the stage as opposed to wanting to be a television show or a movie.”

Gay Marriage Plays 04“Mr. Marmalade” certainly falls within that classification. The play is centered around two very smart children, Lucy and Larry. Lucy has a precocious vocabulary, killer skills in the kitchen, a husband who spends too much time at the office and she’s just 4 years old. Her imaginary world revolves around a too-busy cocaine-and-porn-Laboratory Theater Exterior 1addicted businessman named Mr. Marmalade who never has time for the child who adores him. But Marmalade does do one thing for Lucy. He helps her make sense of the strange things she hears the adults in her dysfunctional family talking about.

But don’t look for a larger, grand message. “I don’t like writing that tells you what to think,” Haidle flatly states. “I don’t have any particular insight to offer about the human experience. No message.” Laboratory TheaterHe claims he wrote “Mr. Marmalade” because he was dating a girl who wanted a role wearing a tutu. “When my girlfriend [Gillian Jacobs, an acting student at Julliard] remarked one day that she’d always wanted to be onstage in a pink tutu, I said, ‘Well, I’m in sort of a position to try and make that happen.’ ” The image of a man in a suit carrying a briefcase also popped into his mind. Thus were born the tutu-clad 4-year-old and her briefcase-toting imaginary friend.

Lab Theater LogoThe outgoing, affable, decidedly heady Haidle cops to being more interested in engaging the audience’s imagination and forcing them to make a Sensational Season 6connection with the play and each other than advancing any personal agenda. “Something sacred happens when a group of people come together for live theater,” he contends. “Some of my greatest experiences have happened in the theater. It’s a place for people to get outside their ordinary lives.”

Mr. Marmalade 1Haidle grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the second son of a radiologist and a stay-at-home mom. He admits to being oblivious to the theater until he was 15 or 16. That changed one day when he shelled out a dollar at his Boy Scout troop’s Lucy and Marmalade 1used book sale for In Their Own Words, David Savran’s 1988 compilation of interviews with contemporary American playwrights. Among those included in the tome were Durang and Marsha Norman, who continue to exert a pervasive influence over Haidle’s craft.

Lucy and Marmalade 2“It’s still the book I’ve read most, and I still return to it in times of need,” he says. He began a regimen of trying to read a play each day, starting with Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, and kept it up through high school and his four years at Princeton, noted Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Mike Boehm in 2004. 

“I had the instinct that I could write plays pretty well, even though I had no idea what I was doing and figured it would take me years to get good at it,” Lucy and Bradley 2he told Boehm. “I would read plays, and hopefully something of my own would come out.” He wrote his first play at the age of just 17, and it remains the only one based on an episode from his own life. The second, “Epistrophy,” was a winner in the Young Playwrights Festival, an annual national competition for writers 18 and under established in 1982 by Stephen Sondheim.

Haidle is published by Methuen in London, Suhrkamp in Berlin, and through Dramatists Play Service in New York City. He is currently working Cast Takes a Bow 3on commissions from Lincoln Center Theater, Yale Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and is set to direct his screenplay “The Rodeo Clown.”

In addition to the August 15 opening other performances of “Mr. Marmalade” will be at 8 p.m. on August 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are $12 for students and $22 for adults at the door. Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com or on the theater’s website, www.laboratorytheaterflorida.com or by calling 239-218-0481.

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Spotlight on ‘Mr. Marmalade’ director Ken Bryant (08-12-14)

Ken and Stella 1SKen Bryant (pictured right with the show’s star, Stella Ruiz, who plays 4-year-old Lucy) is directing Mr. Marmalade. Ken has spent a lifetime in theater, designing, directing, acting and teaching theater in colleges across the country. He was the Artistic Director of Key West’s Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, stage managed for Miami City Ballet, and staged opera in Poland. Lab Theater audiences may remember Ken as the Ghost in Hamlet and Skelly in The Rimers of Eldritch. Ken also directed last year’s hit Ken Bryant as Scrooge 1show, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but he was the show in his self-directed one-man production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  [Art Southwest Florida’s review of A Christmas Carol is provided below in case you missed either the show or the review of Ken’s work.]

When he was teaching, Byrant regularly chose scripts based on novelty, diversity, theme and underlying message. And while Mr. Marmalade has plenty to say about the way in which children are affected by media, family life and society at large, Haidlethese were not the sole factors that prompted Bryant to choose the brash Noah Haidle script. “It’s well-written, entertaining and just plain fun,” said Bryant in a telephone interview today. “It’s a play that I, the cast and the audience will enjoy.”

One aspect of the production that Bryant has especially enjoyed is working with 22-year-old Stella Ruiz, who plays the part of 4-year-old Lucy. “It necessary to have an adult play Lucy,” Bryant reveals. “Not only does the script run the full gamut of human emotions, but there are a number of scenes in which it would be really disquieting to a have an actual 4-year-old playing the part.”

Tender MomentNot that the Lab Theater shies away from making its audiences uncomfortable. “We don’t do mainstream theater,” Bryant is quick to point out. “We do a really good job of trying new things,” such as last season’s Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, which involved partial nudity, and last month’s Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, which tackled the politically, religiously and socially volatile and polarizing topic of gay marriage in the aftermath of the enactment of laws in several states allowing members of the Pablo and Andrew 2LGBT community to lawfully wed. “Mr. Marmalade follows in that tradition,” said Bryant. “It is humorous and ironic. There are no one-liners. It is situational humor.” That is dark and sardonic.

While every director has a vision of how he or she wants the actors to bring their chosen script to life, Bryant strives to empower the cast to do what they’re comfortable doing. “This play has almost directed itself,” Bryant says, his voice replete with Gay Marriage Plays 04satisfaction and approval. “Actors always have great ideas and interpretations. I’d be foolish not to allow them to try new stuff.”

The result will be a wry comedy that opens this Friday night. Doors open at 7:15 with the production beginning at 8 p.m.  The other performances of Mr. Marmalade are on August 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30, with doors opening at 7:30 and the show starting promptly at 8:00 p.m. Individual tickets and special discount Summer Season Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com by clicking HERE.

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Spotlight on ‘Mr. Marmalade’ star Stella Ruiz, who plays Lucy (08-14-14)

Mr. Marmalade 1Stella Ruiz plays Lucy in the upcoming Lab Theater production of Mr. Marmalade.

Ruiz is familiar to Lab Theater audiences, who will remember her as Amelia, Helen, Waitress 3 and Kim in Bob: A Life in Five Acts, Patsy in The Mr. Marmalade 21Rimers of Eldrich, Desdemona in Othello, Candy Starr in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ophelia in Othello, and Belinda Cratchit and the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol. Other notable roles include Nina and Hildy in Relatively Speaking, Katherine in Taming of the Shrew and Hecate in Macbeth (both at the Gulf Coast Shakespeare Festival) and serial killer Monique Avril in the 2012 indie film Redemption. Her stage management credits include Amadeus, Five Kinds of Silence, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Extremities, and Because Beauty Must be Broken Daily. She has also written two full-length plays, appeared as a guest Orientation 01judge at the Fort Myers Film Festival’s TGIM, and is the coordinator of the annual 24-Hour Playwriting Project.

Stella was attracted to the role of Lucy because of the child’s rich inner life. “She really gets carried away with herself,” Ruiz enthused in a recent telephone interview. “Lucy’s very observant. She sees and hears things but cannot process them, so they come out in really strange ways. Fragments of conversation come up in conversations with her imaginary friend.”

Stella 01The actress admits to having imaginary friends of her own when she was a child, although none as disturbing or bizarre as Mr. Marmalade. “I remember reading the script several years ago and thinking, ‘The concept here is really fresh, really interesting.’ I was intrigued that the lead was this extremely strong female in the guise of a 4-year-old.” Reading scripts is something of a hobby for Ruiz, who periodically visits Amazon.com to find and order scripts that look like they might be fun or challenging. That’s not an easy thing to do for an aspiring female actress. As the 2013 U.S. Media Report reveals, women comprised only 9 percent of the directors of the top 250 Lucy 1domestic grossing films of 2012. Of the top grossing films of 2013, women accounted for only 16% of the writers, directors, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers, with just 28.4% of the speaking roles in the top 100 films going to women.

But at the moment, Ruiz’s mind is on Mr. Marmalade and not the gender disparity issues that plague the theater and film industries.

“Lucy is the driving force behind everything that occurs throughout the play,” Stella expounds. “Sure, Mr. Marmalade is really misogynistic, but he’s just a regurgitation of what she sees and experiences.”

Lucy and Marmalade 2In addition to Shakespeare, Ruiz has received instruction in scriptwriting and stage combat at the Lab Theater and has participated in Camp Florida Rep. She has also taken seven years of ballet, tap and jazz and four years of Irish step, modern, lyrical and hip hop. Musically, she has two years of classical piano and classifies herself as a mezzo-soprano. But Stella also has her sights set on higher education, perhaps a degree in theater or film. She will undoubtedly distinguish Ken and Stella 2herself wherever she chooses to go. She is, after all, a strong and purposeful woman in her own right.

Mr. Marmalade opens this Friday night. Doors open at 7:15 with the production beginning at 8 p.m.  The other performances of Mr. Marmalade are on August 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30, with doors opening at 7:30 and the show starting promptly at 8:00 p.m. Individual tickets and special discount Summer Season Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com by clicking HERE.

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Trevor Jack makes Lab Theater debut as Mr. Marmalade in eponymous Noah Haidle play (08-16-14)

Lucy and Marmalade 2Mr. Marmalade opened last night at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. It was not only the show’s Southwest Florida debut, but co-star Trevor Jack’s Lab Theater debut as well.

Jack was first introduced to theater at the age of seven, when he attended a Cape Coral Cultural Park summer camp. “I decided I loved theater,” Trevor says, reflecting back on the experience, which prompted him to take acting, singing and dance lessons and take theater and art classes at End of a Friendshipthe Center for the Arts at Cypress Lake. But life got in the way and after performing several roles in local productions, Jack took a hiatus from performing that’s lasted much too long for his tastes  – or those of the local theater-going community if last night’s performance is any indication.

“I’ve been away from the stage so long, I wasn’t 100 percent sure how I’d feel,” Trevor concedes. But he simultaneously expresses hope that his performance as Mr. Marmalade serves as the springboard for future roles at the Lab Theater and elsewhere.

Lucy and Marmalade 1But for now, he is relishing the spotlight as 4-year-old Lucy’s abusive, cocaine-addicted, workaholic imaginary friend. “What I especially like about this script is that it evokes really conflicting responses. You can’t help but laugh, but the subject matter is not funny. ‘Did I really just laugh at a 4-year-old Mr. Marmalade 321talking about committing suicide?’ So you feel guilty and self-conscious for having laughed. It’s all so contradictory.”

But that’s the genius of Noah Haidle’s play. Mr. Marmalade makes you think about what you are saying in front of your children and grandchildren and what you let them watch (generally unsupervised) on network and cable TV. No topic is off limits for four-year-old Lucy, including promiscuity, teen (or in this case, pre-teen) pregnancy, extra-marital affairs, domestic Cast Takes a Bow 3violence, cocaine addiction, and profanity. In fact, as Lucy’s imaginary friend, Trevor Jack’s volatile and violent Mr. Marmalade is prone to dropping f-bombs at a moment’s notice.

“If you want to think and feel more than one emotion at a time and are interested in how media might impact kids,” says Trevor, “come out and see Mr. Marmalade 1the play. But leave the children at home, otherwise we might compound the problem.”

The remaining five performances of Mr. Marmalade take place tonight and on August 22, 23, 29 and 30. All Lab Theater summer show performances take place on Friday and Saturday nights only, with doors opening at 7:30 and the show starting promptly at 8:00 p.m. Individual tickets and special discount Summer Season Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com by clicking HERE. The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Ave, on the corner of Woodford and 2nd, in downtown Fort Myers.

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Marmalade assistant Bradley undeservedly overlooked in most reviews of Haidle play (08-18-14)

Lucy and Bradley 1Much has been written about Noah Haidle’s dark comedy, Mr. Marmalade, and its cast of disturbing, extremely dysfunctional characters. But the one who gets the least amount of attention or press is Mr. Marmalade’s personal assistant, Bradley. It’s a curious phenomenon given that Bradley is the Lucy and Bradley 2symbol of the sensitive, abused, beleaguered child that Lucy cannot afford to allow her mother and the other adults in her life see.

The action in Mr. Marmalade takes places in just a single night, so the audience is never really given all the misbehavior that is manifested and paraphrased by Lucy and her imaginary friends. But it’s not a stretch of the imagination to conclude that the briefcase-carrying, cocaine-snorting Lucy and Bradley 3workaholic Marmalade stands in for her absent father, who apparently ditched his wife and daughter when Lucy was all of two. He is physically and verbally abusive, distant, and makes and breaks appointments with Lucy, who herself is often a stand-in for her disaffected and dis-affectionate Jersey mom, deliciously played by Dana Lynn Frantz.

While opinions vary, an argument can be made that when Marmalade is verbally and physically Bradleyabusive, Lucy is standing in for her mom. But when he is physically and verbally abusive to his assistant, Bradley represents the shy, sensitive 4-year-old, who was called upon to act as mediator between her woeful parents. And if you need more evidence of this, consider how Lucy invites Bradley to hang around the house at the end of the play while she goes outside to play dodge ball with her five-year-old friend Larry. Whether or not this is the proper interpretation of Haidle’s characterizations in Mr. Marmalade, Michael Lee Bridges turns in a rich albeit understated performance as Marmalade’s assistant.

This is Bridges’ second visit to the Laboratory Theater. He Cast Takes a Bow 3appeared last summer’s BOB: A Life in Five Acts. A recent graduate of FGCU’s theatre program. Michael has appeared in several of the FGCU TheatreLab’s productions, including Bloody Poetry(Dr. Polidori), Constellations III: Dog Wish, The Priory (Adam), and Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead (Beethoven). Unlike Lucy, Michael comes from a functional family and is grateful to his parents for keeping him motivated and focused.

Mr. Marmalade 1The remaining four performances of Mr. Marmalade take place on August 22, 23, 29 and 30. All Lab Theater summer show performances take place on Friday and Saturday nights only, with doors opening at 7:30 and the show starting promptly at 8:00 p.m. Individual tickets and special discount Summer Season Tickets are available on www.brownpapertickets.com by clicking HERE. The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Ave, on the corner of Woodford and 2nd, in downtown Fort Myers.

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Ken Bryant’s one-man performance of ‘A Christmas Carol’ puts focus on Dickens as storyteller (12-22-13)

Ken Bryant as Scrooge 1Just about everyone knows the tale of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who sees the errors of his ways thanks to visitations by three ghosts sent to him on Christmas Eve by his seven-year-dead partner Jacob Marley. In the end, he becomes the good-spirited benefactor to his clerk Bob Cratchitt and a second father for Bob’s sickly boy Tiny Tim. But few have actually taken the time to read the novella which has spawned thousands of stage and film performances of the iconic story since its publication 170 years ago. And that was, in large measure, the magic of Dr. Ken Bryant’s solo performance of A Christmas Carol at the Laboratory Theater of Florida over the past two weekends.

Ken Bryant as Scrooge 4Performing A Christmas Carol solo is risky business. First, it invites comparisons to other actors who’ve attempted the feat, not the least of which was Charles Dickens himself. It was a centerpiece of many acclaimed readings given by the author late in his life, including at Boston’s Tremont Theatre (now the Tremont Temple), where Dickens made his U.S. debut in 1867.

psanimeDickens’ great-great-grandson, Gerald, has been giving solo performances of A Christmas Carol since the yarn’s 150th anniversary in 1993. But one name in modern culture is synonymous with one-man performances of A Christmas Carol, and that name belongs to Patrick Stewart. Yes, that Patrick Stewart  Captain Jean-Luc Picard from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the wheelchair-bound Professor Xavier, leader of the mutants in the popular comic-book adaptations of the “X-Men.” Stewart has been performing A Christmas Carol sans supporting cast even longer than Gerald Dickens, taking on the avocation annually since 1989.

Ken Bryant as Scrooge 3Okay, so Ken Bryant is no Patrick Stewart. But his solo performance of A Christmas Carol was powerful and charming in its own fashion. It is clear from the outset that Dr. Bryant loves Dickens. Bryant doesn’t just deliver lines from the novella. He masticates Dickens’ prose with the enthusiasm and reverence of an Andrew Zimmern diving into a pate’ of snail caviar in France or plate of curried iguana in Trinidad and Tobago. People don’t talk like Dickens writes any more, and Bryant’s elocution, articulation and phrasing brought out the spice and flavor of Dickens’ writing. Unfortunately, Dickens’ linguistic mastery is typically missed in full-scale productions, where the emphasis is on the sets, costumes, and the performances of the dozens of actors customarily cast to fill the roles of the more than 40 major and minor characters who appear during the course of the story. And perhaps that is why Dr. Bryant opted to cast the Lab Theater’s performance as a one-man show.

Ken Bryant as Scrooge 2From a directorial standpoint, Dr. Bryant’s decision to place the emphasis on Dickens’ linguistics and storytelling converted A Christmas Carol from entertainment to a collaboration with the audience in the tradition of performance art. It invited, nay, demanded the audience to use their own imaginations to envision 19th century London and the ghosts of Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Future, as well as Scrooge’s sister, nephew, lost love, Fezziwig and, of course, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. It’s like going to an art exhibition and all the artist provides are frames and a set of instructions, leaving it to viewers to conjure their own imagery in their individual and collective mind’s eyes. (And if that sort of challenge appeals to you, be sure to attend Yoko Ono: Image Peace at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery on January 24.)

In the final analysis, it undoubtedly takes an actor with Shakespearean training to pull off a solo performance of this Christmas classic, and Dr. Bryant does hold a Master’s degree in Shakespeare and a Doctoral degree in Dramatic Criticism. Among his other credits, he has played the Ghost of Hamlet’s father in Hamlet and Brabantio in Othello at the Lab Theater. And as Artistic Director Annette Trossbach pointed out in her introductory comments, “Ken is excited and proud to be able to narrate from Charles Dickens’ private notes for you today.”

Laboratory TheaterWhile a solo production of A Christmas Carol is not for everyone, it does underscore the value of a community theater like the Laboratory Theater of Florida, which routinely takes risks in order to bring Fort Myers’ and Southwest Florida audiences plays, productions and slants they simply will not find anywhere else …. unless they are lucky enough to catch an iconic actor like a Patrick Stewart or Gerald Dickens at the height of the game.

Laboratory Theater Exterior 2 (3)The Laboratory Theater of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which is dedicated to the promotion of the performing arts, through live performance, education, community outreach, experimentation and the development of ensemble work. The company features ensemble productions, produces classic works, takes artistic risks and features and challenges local performers of various skill levels. Stay up to date with its news and events on Facebook and Twitter @LabTheaterFL.  For more information, please call 239-218-0481. The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Ave. Fort Myers, 33901.

  1. Thanks, Tom! Your article shows a tremendous amount of research into this play and its author. We are delighted to present the comedy, though its themes are a serious indictment of some peoples’ parenting! I found the comments on Facebook regarding experiences with babysitters very telling!

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