Right-o. Let me say it up front. “Seven Keys to Baldpate” at 2nd Story is nothing less than a charmer. It’ll tickle your funny bone and warm your heart in the middle of this obstreperous winter of our discontent.
Okay, that’s enough of 1913-type hyperbole. But there’s no question that the Providence-born Cohan knew what he was doing. He adapted “Baldpate” from a novel by the author of the Charlie Chan film series. He said the play is both a farce and a melodrama. He was right on both counts.
Yes, indeed. There are lots of reasons why this production is a splendid piece of theater. First and foremost is Sandra Laub, the actress playing the one-time prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir.
Most theater people, especially actors, will tell you that doing a one-woman or one-man show is the most difficult of assignments. After all, it is just one soul out there, alone. It’s a matter of getting the audience to fall for you, and there’s nobody to help out. You, and you alone, must keep the play’s pulse moving, must make the character live.
“Sons of the Prophet” comes to Rhode Island with a pretty darn good reputation. Brown University graduate Stephan Karam’s play was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and did win several awards that year. It was a favorite of Manhattan’s downtown theater crowd, too.
Back in the late 1940s and early ‘50s the talk along the New York Rialto was about whether Tennessee Williams could broaden his approach. Sure, the critics and others said, he’s written great plays such as the ever-so-human “Glass Menagerie” and the stinging “A Streetcar Named Desire.” But can he go in other directions, take us to new places?
If you had just one word to describe the powerful, incisive version of “Amadeus” at 2nd Story that might be it. After all, even when you enter the performing space you notice the dim. A couple of lights, a candle or two, and that’s it. Watch your step, and maybe get out those reading glasses if you care to check the program.