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The Road To Mecca
At the American Airlines Theatre, located at 227 West 42nd Street. The play opens on January 17, 2012 and closes on March 4, 2012.
The play is by South Africa's Athol Fugard. Fugard directed the world premiere of his play at the National Theatre in London in 1987 and later at the Promenade Theatre Off-Broadway. He played the role of Marcus Byleveld in both productions. The play won the Drama Circle Critics Award for Best Foreign Play.
This production will be directed by Gordon Edelstein.
Rosemary Harris has had a distinguished career in movies, theatre and television. She has won a Tony for "The Lion In Winter" (1966), Drama Desk Award for "Old Time" (1972), a Tony for "A Street Car Named Desire", The Merchant of Venice" (1973) "The Royal Family" (1976) and "Pack of Lies" (1985). She won an Emmy award for "Notorious Women" (1976). Ms. Harris has won a Golden Globe Awards for Holocaust" (1978) and "Sunshine" (2001). She has won Obie for "All Over" (2002). These are just a few of the awards and nominations she has received for theatre, film, and television.
Jim Dale has won a Tony award for "Barnum" He was nominated for five Tony Awards ("Candide", "Scapino" "Joe Egg", "Barnun" and "Three Penny Opera". He has also been nominated for four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Awards and the Lucille Lortel Award. He was nominated for an Academy Award for writing the lyrics for the song "Georgy Girl". In 2003 Queen Elizabeth II honored Jim with "The Member of the British Empire" He holds two Guinness World Records, one for having created and recorded 146 different character voices for one audio book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" and one for occupying the first six places in the top ten audio books of America and Canada 2005.
Carla Gigino made her Broadway debut in "After the Fall" in 2004. In 2011 she was seen in "Mr Popper's Penquins" and "New Years Eve". She will be in the 2012 season of "Justified" Gina has also appeared in "Entourage" and "Californication"
The play takes place in a small village in New Bethesia, South Africia in the autumn of 1974.
Miss Helen (Rosemary Harris) has a surprise visit from her young friend Elsa Barlow (Carla Gugino). Elsa is a teacher in Cape May.
It seems Helen has sent Elsa a letter of despair. Among the things she wrote was her eye sight is failing and this is the end.
Elsa lashes out at Helen several times. But she explains in different scenes why she is so angry.
The village minister Marcus Byleveld (Jim Dale) is trying to talk Helen into leaving her home for the church retirement residence. She does not want to go and Elsa tells her when the minister comes to tell him no.
Helen is an artist who has turned her vegetable garden into a show case for her art work.
The minister shows up near the end of the first act. In the second act Marcus is breaking down Helen's will not to sign the form to go to the home. Helen needs Elsa help but she lashes out at her to fight for herself. But it is plain to see that Helen is not the women she once was. Helen seems to have dementia.
Being the mezzanine it was hard to hear what the actors were saying at times. It was brought to the attention of the usher, who alerted the stage manager about the problem. The second act was a little better but there were times when I couldn't understand what Rosemary Harris was saying, the same goes for the other actors.
This put a damper on the show. I was confused as to what was going on and why? Which is a shame because the performances were good. Especially when I could understand what was happening to Helen it was heart breaking because you felt for the character, Rosemary acting tugged at your heart strings. Helen was losing her independence and had no one to look after her.
I left the theatre frustrated because I could not understand what they were saying at times. I don't know if that is why the play did not make sense or because it was just the play itself? When Rosemary Harris came out of the stage door she asked if we could hear them. I said no. She apologized and said she was sorry. "I hope you come back and see it again". She said the director keeps telling them to speak up louder.
I will give a A to the set design. It was down to earth and homey. The set was designed by Michael Yeargan. He won a Tony and Drama Desk Awards for "The Light in the Pizza" and " South Pacific".
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.