The View Upstairs (review)

The View Upstairs (review)
The View Upstairs (review)
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THE PLAY: A man buys a decrepit building in New Orleans, where he encounters the crew that inhabited the space as a gay bar in 1973.

 

THE PRODUCTION: This show starts beautifully with an opening number that promises lovely harmonies and catchy melodies. As the play progresses, it’s crammed with overwrought songs and solemn messages. This is the first production of this play outside New York and the pop references are often funny and surprisingly timely. The uniformly strong cast is a mixing bowl of stereotypes and each of them gets a solo moment. Some of the songs are a challenge to sing and not always successful (the sound mix sometimes drowns out the lyrics). Director Lucian Restivo has forged the group into a excellent ensemble and added a layer of density with enjoyable interactions and smart bits. Still, he couldn’t overcome the play’s inherent tendency to simplify situations and preach trite lessons. Kikau Alvaro’s interesting choreography is often just subtle background movement: Not sure if it supports or distracts. David Melton has engulfed the entire theatre in the bar’s ambience with an interestingly-layered set that shows hints of its faded Deco glory. Michael Jarett’s lighting often provides evocative support and Ryan Allen’s costumes create spot-on period looks (the closing number features some eye-popping ensembles). Running time: 1:40 (no intermission)

 

THE POINT: This production provides amusing moments with a cast that does a good job, but the play itself is burdened with too many messages and self-important drama.

 

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

At Richmond Triangle Players thru 9/2

 

Photos by John MacLellan

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