Saturday, July 16, 2011

GAMUT's 'The Lover' Getting Big Crowds Because It's Good

(UPDATE: Saturday's final performance is sold out. Sorry.)

I slipped into an impromptu, last minute bank of seats on the side wall of Studio Roanoke's theater last night for a sold-out performance of Harold Pinter's "The Lover" and an hour later was truly glad for the squeeze play.

The sellout is the mark of this GAMUT production, a delightful--if a tad dark--comedy by the master of confusion. GAMUT has been around for years, producing about three plays a year, having no permanent home (though the new Community High School could well serve as that in the future) and doing quality work with a mixture of small theater veterans and newcomers. It's the kind of community theater we're consistently spoiled by these days in Roanoke with the combination of GAMUT, Studio Roanoke, Hollins University, Star City Playhouse and Showtimers all producing winners in the absence of Mill Mountain Theatre, the region's professional stage.

"The Lover" in GAMUT's world is punctuated by music and dance in a delightfully-random fashion (the dancers are Elyse Daye Hart and Trey Mitchell, who do splendid work), but it's still about Pinter's go-to-hell vision of the world. This one features Richard (Michael Mansfield) and Sarah (the always watchable, flame-haired beauty Amanda Mansfield) as a couple married for 10 years but keeping boredom away by playing a game that seems to be wearing thin at the edges. That's all I'll say for fear of spoiling it, but it's a fun hour (and I just love plays that are tight, short and full of everything you want in a disciplined script).

The Mansfields, by the way, have both been around as actors for a long time, but this is the married couple's first appearance together.

Miriam Frazier's direction is spot-on and if you want to see this whole package, you'd better hurry. It ends tonight. Call 540-521-6049 for tickets.

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