By Paul LeDoux
Director: Carole Higgins Fights:Nicholas Harrison Set design: Bryan Pollock Lighting design: Jonathan Ryder Costume Design: Andrea Hiestand Sound design: John McCulloch Stage Manager: Lorilyn Parker
Venue: Waterfront Theatre Dates: 21 February -16 March 2003
Reviewer: Jane Penistan
Carousel Theatre Company presents the Western Canadian premiere of Merlin. Full of mystery, myth and magic, this is a retelling of the legend of Merlin the magician who foresees the future and sets the young Arthur on the throne of Britain.
An ivy-clothed tower rising into the clouds centres the back of the stage. From this dominating position power or magic are dispensed, shadows and storms, battle noises and star showers flash and echo round it, and mystical figures rise from its summit.
This is a very atmospheric production with the lighting, sound and special effects departments contributing largely to the changing scenes. Full of flashbacks, this is sometimes a difficult play to follow initially, but as the work progresses these become clearer and their consequences apparent.
As the young Merlin, Rebecca Auerbach gives a believable performance, but as the older Merlin, James Fagan Tait, while looking a legendary enchanter, is often unintelligible. This is a grave disadvantage as his speeches should contribute to his well performed characteristic movement and gestures, and let everyone know what he is saying and what is the significance of the given moment. As Arthur, Adam Underwood does not fully develop his character as the future king, though in the earlier scenes he gives an adequately youthful performance. Layla Alizada presents a charming Morgana who is both ambitious and passionate. Uther Pendragon and other warring Saxon and British kings and leaders are played by Jamie Norris, Chris McGregor, and Derek Metz., while Teryl Rothery and Sarah Susut are Ursula and Rowena.
Carole Higgins has brought this new telling of the Merlin legend by Paul Ledoux to an imaginative and exciting production. Full use has been made of the lighting and sound departments to present the unreal and mythical setting of story and the characterization of the cast is well thought out. The mixture of reality and unearthly is never an easy formula, but here the magic of the myths works.
For all lovers of fantasy and /or the Arthurian legends this is the show for you. It is also a great introduction to this genre if it is unfamiliar.
© 2003, Jane Penistan