By November 23, 2018 0 Comments Read More →

Stage Review The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.


Prospect Theater Project’s Watch On The Rhine by Lillian Hellman (1941)
By Rebecca Day

Spotlight on Watch On The Rhine.

Prospect Theater Project’s production of Watch On The Rhine is showing from November 16-December 2.

I like to breakdown my reviews into sections so the reader may skip to whichever part is most important to them.

The Setting: Intimate, authentic, and inviting.

The black box theater places the audience into the living room of Fanny Farrelly. I cannot stress this enough, there are NO “bad seats” at the Prospect Theater. You have a great view wherever you sit. It truly does feel as though you are simply sitting on a sofa in the corner of the home in 1940.

Due to the intimate space, actors do not wear microphones of any kind. It gives an authentic feel to the entire show.

The Story: Simplified with few spoilers.

Sarah and Kurt Muller and their three children arrive at Sarah’s childhood home in America after 20 years of living throughout Europe. It is very evident that the Mullers haven’t been in a real home in a very long time. Fanny, Sarah’s mother, is ecstatic to see her daughter again and to meet her grandchildren for the first time. The reunion is quite touching and humorous due to Fanny’s bright and slightly obnoxious personality.

Also staying at the home are The Count and Countess De Brancovis, friends of Fanny. Teck De Brancovis is at least 10 years Marthe’s senior and their marriage is clear to be more of a business transaction than one of love and partnership. They are staying at the Farrelly home because they are going through financial troubles which are not thoroughly explained.

With little hints along the way it becomes clear that Kurt Muller is a wanted man for his part in an illegal organization, the anti-fascist movement. Teck De Brancovis plots to use his connections at the German Embassy and this information against Muller to extort money from Muller.

Character highlights:

Fanny Farrelly, played by Connie Stetson, does an excellent job as the boisterous, aristocratic mother. She takes the character of Fanny and makes her irritating but somehow lovable. A difficult line to tow to say the least.

Sarah Muller, played by Robin Hysong Bjerke, is the loving and supportive wife that many women strive to be. At every turn Sarah is giving her husband the emotional and physical support he needs to be the hero he strives to be. Even through panic and tears she is cheering her man on.

Kurt Muller, played by Jim Kocher, makes being a superhero look not only easy but obvious. I suppose obvious isn’t the right word. What I mean to say is that Kurt makes decisions for the greater good with little to no hesitation. He is somehow the embodiment of courage without being prideful.

Conclusion:

There are many other layers to this story that I would love to deliver to you but I know I wouldn’t capture them nearly as well as the play does on its own.

I’ll admit I did watch the film before seeing the play. If you want to be objective while reviewing a show you should never ever watch the film! I broke my own rule but I am glad I did. The actors at Prospect are all volunteers. The actors for the 1943 film were payed. The Prospect actors FAR surpass the film and bring the story to life and the honor it deserves. The film? Well. Just don’t even bother.

There are several performances left and I deeply encourage you to attend.

Remaining dates are November 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, and December 1 and 2. Tickets are $25 and you can buy them online (prospect.vbotickets.com/events) or at the theater when you arrive.

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.