April 2011 at CPT

Two new shows have opened at the Cleveland Public Theatre. Fever/Dream is playing in the Gordon Square Theatre, and I Hate This/And Then You Die in the Storefront Studio. Both productions will run through April 23, and both come highly recommended.

Fever/Dream is a modern comedy about Corporate America. Written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Beth Wood, Fever/Dream showcases the type of unique theatrical experience for which the Cleveland Public Theatre has become known. Fever/Dream is based, in part, on La vida es sueño (Life Is a Dream), by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, one of the most celebrated playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age. But Callaghan’s setting the story in the present day makes it all the more familiar and relevant.

The play opens with Segis locked away in the basement of the Basil Corporation. We eventually learn that Segis is actually the son of company founder and president, Bill Basil. Why is he there? And what will happen when he takes the reins of control from his father? These are the questions to be answered in this very entertaining new comedy. Christian Prentice makes an excellent Segis, injecting a lot of physical humor into his performance. And the rest of the cast does a fine job in portraying a host of wacky supporting characters. Fever/Dream is a dark, yet humorous, look at today’s working world: low pay, under appreciated employees, and yes, corporate greed.

I Hate This/And Then You Die is actually two separate, but interrelated, one-man shows; both the works of Cleveland’s own David Hansen. One has to admire someone who performs a one-man show. He has no help; no one to “catch” him if he stumbles… the entire performance falls upon his shoulders. But Mr. Hansen is a very capable entertainer, keeping the show going and delivering a thoughtful, endearing, and heartfelt performance.

Act I, I Hate This, is an exploration of a father’s anguish over the loss of a stillborn child and his love for this “child who never was.” Mr. Hansen takes us back and forth between the present and the past as he recounts this heartbreaking experience. I Hate This will make you laugh one minute and will tug at your heart the next.

Act II, And Then You Die, showcases Mr. Hansen’s “journey” to achieving a great personal goal, that of running the New York Marathon. Humor, both verbal and physical, and a lot of high energy make this performance fun and entertaining. Mr. Hansen has a great gift in connecting with his audience and keeping patrons engaged in his performance. I look forward to seeing his future work.

Often dubbed “Cleveland’s alternative theatre,” the Cleveland Public Theatre (or CPT) is known for its often edgy, avant-garde productions. The theatre was founded in 1981 by James Levin, and since, it has grown into much more than just a simple, community stage. Today the CPT campus is a thriving performing arts complex that includes multiple performance spaces, including the James Levin Theatre, the Gordon Square Theatre, and the intimate Storefront Studio, among others. This allows for CPT to offer more than just one performance at a time. And there is always something to satisfy all theatrical tastes and interests. If you have not experienced a performance at the Cleveland Public Theatre, take a chance… you will not be disappointed.

Up next at the Cleveland Public Theatre is Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves in the James Levin Theatre (April 21 – May 7), My Barking Dog in the Storefront Studio (May 12-28), and Cut to Pieces in the James Levin Theatre (May 26 – June 4). And the dance series, DanceWorks ’11, will take place from May 5 – June 5 in the Gordon Square Theatre.

The Cleveland Public Theatre is located in the Gordon Square Arts District of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland’s West Side. For a full schedule of all CPT performances and events, please visit its website at www.cptonline.org.

– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger

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