My Opinion on Theater

 By Damien Knight

I have read many plays and acted in a few including a production that my father wrote for church. I do not believe a good play has to have a traditional linear story. Some stories work well with flashback scenes or starting at the end then going back and then returning to the end scene. These sorts of story lines are more difficult but very captivating. A linear story line is the simplest method of telling a story and can keep an audience on track but if not done right can also seem trite.

Most plays I have seen lasted two hours. This seems like the ideal length for a play. It can be shorter but any shorter than an hour would seem like a skit and not a full play. The best plays can be on various topics such as “Steel Magnolias” which is inspired by the strength of southern women, or “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” where the story is about unrequited love’s reversal due to fairy pranks. These both performed on the stage have a great flow of dialogue essential for a good play. Within moments reading the script you know who the characters are and what the dilemma is.

I have a love of theater and a great play requires an unexpected turn of events and when I performed as Pontius Pilot in the Easter play my father wrote I personally believe I acted in the greatest play I ever had. The retelling linear and the crowed chants crucify him. Pontius washes his hands but the twist was the man we follow as the main character is not Jesus but the thief he forgives. For me, the most important element a playwright should consider is keeping the audience interested.

“39 Steps” at the Maryland Ensemble Theater Review

Written by: Damien Knight

Written in 2012 for the MET production that year. If in Frederick, Maryland it’s really a must to stop by this awesome small theatre and see their excellent productions.

The play The 39 Steps was about an ordinary man from Canada living in England. During the play he meets a foreign secret agent who has discovered a plot to steal secret government information. She is murdered by another agent’s men and the murder is pinned on the main character. For him to clear his name he has to find out what the elusive 39 steps are and prove that the person responsible was the man she had warned him of.

The play consisted of four actors who played many different roles. They executed this very well and were very convincing. The main role was played by the single main actor and the lead female played two other roles pretty convincingly. My favorite actors were actually the two who played the most roles. Every role they played they played as if it was their only role and was very entertaining. The actors all involved the audience to participate to a certain level with them.

The lighting played a key role in several scenes. The lighting for a good portion was a low set light that was like an apartment candle light. One scene though made me wish they had a seizure warning seeing as the light had strobe effect. It was a scene where the woman was getting her husband from the party and multicolor strobe lights appeared along with music when the door opened. If a person has epilepsy like I do I would take caution before going to see this play.

The stage set was used in a very versatile manner. They used chairs, a ladder, these block things, a door, curtains and a background set to establish many scenes in a believable way. The props were used in various ways and they were able to create train chases and suspenseful scenes that one would think was not fit for a theater stage using a sheet and shadow figures.

Before the dialogue began I knew this play was going to be about a British character. The costume was fitting and the hair and Mustache was as well. I could tell that it was during the perhaps the 40’s or close to the second world war when the female entered the scene. The costumes were great and fitted the characters. By using costume alteration in just slight ways the actors were able to convince you that they indeed were someone completely different.

Sound was very important in creating the atmosphere and mood of this play. Many sound effects were put to good use such as gun shots and airplane sounds. Sense the play was based on one of the suspense master, Alfred Hitchcock’s movie I expected suspense music to be used and I got exactly what I expected. In key scenes when certain things were said they would play “the music” this gave the air of both comedy and suspense.

All and all aside from my personal seizure warning this play was a delight to see. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My elder son and I have seen Dracula at the MET and really enjoyed it; because of this I already had a certain level of expectation from the actors. They did not disappoint. This is one that I feel even children though perhaps not as young as mine are able to attend and understand. The comedy is basic and even my three year old daughter laughed. This play is a must not miss.