Friday, February 5, 2010

The Carpetbagger's Children, Profile Theater

Director: Joh Kretzu
Playwright: Horton Foote

Cornelia  .....  Jane Fellows
Grace Anne  .....  Jacklyn Maddux
Sissie  .....  Val Landrum 

sez says: Profile presents another delightful play. The entire Horton Foote series has proved to be compelling. It is the magic of Profile, to reveal something more about the art of the theater by presenting multiple works by the same author, and gradually providing a depth of focus that is not available seeing only single pieces of a person's work.

For this play the simplicity of the structure is perfect for telling an epic. The tale spans the lifetime of a generation.  Three women telling little bits of stories about their lives, builds into a tale that tells not just about themselves and their family, but about a entire social order and about the tricks of memory and the slow rewriting of events to make the whole hold together.

The production itself is solid. Jane Fellow and Jacklyn Maddux easily slip into their characters and pull the audience right into the world they inhabit.  Val Landrum sang nicely (she has a lovely voice) ... but she was otherwise not at all as strong as Fellows and Maddux.  You couldn't help but know that she was trying to create a character...she was working at her accent and the voice changes she had to do. Or, in other words you knew she was acting--and thus not making the character real. Regardless, this is well worth seeing--and Profile Theater continues to get high marks from me.  GRADE B


  1. Dear sez: You obviously don't know a good actor when you see one. I saw this proction and Ms. Landrum was the only one who actually had a character. She was still and honest and connected to what she was doing; brilliant as she slipped easily from one character to another. Jane Fellows overacted and pushed and had vocal problems; she was much better in A Trip to Bountiful. Ms. Maddox was fine but,was forgetable. I am from eastern Texas and Ms. Landrum was the only one in the entire play who could actually do the accent. Not to mention, that I have seen her numerous times in this city- I still think about her incredible turn as Stella in ART's A Streetcar Named Desire- and she is ALWAYS different- what a range.
    I have read some of your other posts and responses and it is clear that you should not be critizing actors. Stick to the plot, my friend.

  2. How nice to hear from a fellow theater goer. I personally believe that all of our opinions are worth hearing--and I trust that together we may find a truth larger than what any one of us may recognize. But, suggesting that someone NOT comment because their opinions differ is silly. Most likely we saw different performances: One of the joys of live theater is that each performance is unique. The night we saw this show Ms Landrum was not in her stride. She may be capable of much better--but in the performance we saw she did not create a character that was natural and believable: Her acting was more obvious than the character she was trying to create. You may like her, and you may not want to hear any criticism of her, but that does not invalidate my report .

  3. Of coarse it does not invalidate you report. Nor does it invalidate the fact that after reading this and several of your other reports on many incredible actors in this town, I feel that you don't really have a good grasp on what makes a strong actor. It seems to me that you perfer actors that are somewhat boring or play it safe. I am a retired union actor and director who worked on Broadway and regionally for a long time and I felt it was inportant for me to let you know that your opinion was not all that acurate- not just for this show but others.
    I also thought it was valuable to not only defend Ms. Landrum's brilliant work ( and for the record EVERYONE I talked to about it agreed she was) but also to state another opinion. What if some read your report only and saw only that? Not to mention that it was a bit harsh. Are YOU an actor ? Do YOU know how hard it is to create a multi-layered, honest charactor like that; in an incredibly difficult story ? Perhaps the reason why you felt she was not believeable or natural was that you have never met anyone like that ? I am from Texas and I can name several. Not to mention that she had to play MANY more people than the other two actresses. In those moments Sissie ( not Ms. Landrum ) WAS 'acting'. What I loved the most about Ms. Landrum was her stillness and ability to listen and you have portrayed her work as over the top and dishonest. Also, I saw the show twice and she was consistant as ever. Yes and actor can have an 'off' night but I highly doubt it was that off. I think it has more to do with your inability to recongnize great work.
    I personally feel that in the future you should be a little more careful about how much you attack someone's work. That is all.

  4. Oh my- some heat is generated. Are you really saying that no one but an actor should comment on an actor's work. If so, that is an absurd stance. Do you think most of your audience is made up of actors? Or does it not matter what the audience thinks about a performance? If theater is to be what it can and should be it is a relationship between the audience, the material and the actors. The more a play is talked about the better. We need many opinions and plenty of debate to discover what is good and what can be improved. That I was not impressed with Ms L's work the night I saw the performance is a fact. I did think that Maddux and Fellows were very good. You say that you felt they were weak. You say I might harm Ms L by stating my view , are you not concerned that you will hurt Maddux and Fellows by stating your opinion? Your problem seems to be personal in your concern about Ms. L--rather than objective about the work. My relationship with theater is long and deep but I do not need to tout the details of that relationship to buttress my opinion. I mean no harm to anyone I write about. I believe that constructive criticism is a form of flattery. I welcome you comments and your opinions about any of the shows I write about. But I reject the notion that I should keep my opinion to myself just becasue you disagree with me--and I think you are very foolish to make such a suggestion.

  5. 1. I do not know Ms. Landrum personally.
    2. I did not feel Maddox and Fellows were terrible by any means. It bothered me that Fellows had voice/breath issues and Maddox seemed a bit mis-cast, they by no means ruined the show.
    3. I clearly have way too much time on my hands to even care that much about what you think and I regret that.

  6. Thanks for the feedback and for participating in the conversation about theater in Portland. "See ya at the movies" ... or, in this case, I guess that would be 'see ya at the theater!' Maybe we will eventually find something to agree about.