Play Review: A Life in the Theatre

Here in Salisbury, NC — Lee Street Theatre is offering David Mamet‘s 1977 play, A Life in the Theatre.

If you live around here and like this kind of play, you’ve got the chance to see great theatre in this little town.

I happen to love this kind of play, and I thoroughly enjoyed this fine production.

What kind of play is it?

It’s Mamet, of course — tight, muscular, and poignant. He’s the best writer of profanity in the business — but A Life in the Theatre is squeaky clean.

A Life in the Theatre
A Life in the Theatre

In fact, I don’t recall a vulgar moment. It’s a sweet love story about the backstage lives — a mirror for their entire, inner lives — of two actors. It’s an especially endearing piece for those who, themselves, have spent time backstage.

It’s a two-man show, a gem of a story, and everything depends on the caliber of the acting.

We, the theatre goers here in this small southern town, are extraordinarily blessed that Craig Kolkebeck and Brian Romans call Salisbury home — and that Lee Street Theatre chose this play for them to do. They absolutely nail it. Every beat. Every expression. Rapid timing. It’s an intimate space. Perfect.

A lot of credit must go to Christin Duncan, who is technically the stage manager — but in part the director. Claudia Gallup, the actual director, spent the last two weeks of rehearsal, and the first week of the two week run, in the hospital. Duncan took over at crunch time, and she’s done so with art and precision.

My only complaint is with the audience (which was pretty darn big for this kind of play in this small town). They laughed a lot. Two folks behind me might have had one two many at dinner. They offered loud cheers, like they were watching one of their kids on American Idol.

There are some humorous moments — but I’m pretty sure this play is a drama and would be that much more powerful if audience members could realize that and contain their nerves.

The Looking Glass Artist Collective, which started a short time ago, just prior to the onset of our Great Recession, as an idea in the active brain of Sarah Hall, is turning out better than anyone could have expected. The art gallery, store, classroom, musical offerings, and theatre all seem to be thriving.  Good news for Salisbury’s vibrant art scene.

A Life in the Theatre continues October 22-24, 2009, 7:30 pm, at the Looking Glass Artist Collective, 405 N. Lee Street. Salisbury, NC

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