As I walked in to view Utah Valley University’s Dialogues, the first thing I noticed is the subdued, grey makeup of the characters on stage at the amphitheater in the quad at UVU. Kudos to Lauren Wagstaff and her assistant, Clarissa Knotts, for their thoughtful makeup and hair design. The makeup was skillfully applied by the makeup crew, supervised by Ann Thomas. As the show proceeds, you see that the makeup must be understood on more than one level. “God dances in the grey” is an interesting line from the show. The costumes, designed by Carolyn Urban, carry on in the grey theme—with some interesting things happening as the show proceeds.
Dialogues was written by Ashley Ramsey, who directed the show, and Amber Cummings and was based on the dialogues of Plato. They put together many emotionally charged monologues and vignettes to set the audience to thinking. What is a martyr? Are the causes of the characters worthy? Do we feel admiration, confusion, sympathy? This piece is really what each audience member chooses to make of it in their own minds.
Crito (Clarissa Knotts) narrated the activity on stage. Her costumes were a contrast to the rest of the cast. Overall she did a good job, but sometimes her voice got lost in the outdoor venue. She interacted with each character and helped put cohesion into the piece.
Wiilliam Kalmar showed a strong stage presence in his portrayal of Socrates. It would help to have some knowledge of Socrates—but the character was well played. There is a page available that explains a little about each character. I would advise looking at this before the show begins. I felt the information about Socrates was a little sparse.
Anne Frank (Briana Lindsey) is a beloved character from my youth. The dream scene where Anne imagined a touching relationship with a young man (Lucas Stewart) is well done. It brought back to my mind reading about young Anne Frank’s dreams and imaginings while she was in hiding from the Nazis during World War II.
I really liked hearing some of the words of Malcolm X. Christian Tyler did an admirable job of delivering the speeches of the human rights leader and in making us feel his humanity and passion for his causes. He made me want to know more about the man he portrayed.
Joan of Arc was a woman of strength and was played with strength by Amanda Wilson. Her voice carried and was clear and audible to the entire amphitheater. She expressed her passion without overacting. A very well done performance. She and Lucas Stewart did some singing which added a nice touch to the show.
Lucas Stewart played Joseph Smith, Jr. and did double duty as a young Dutchman in Anne Frank’s imagination. He portrayed the Mormon leader with reserve and yet with fortitude and resolve as well. He gave the impression of a man true to his beliefs and calm in the face of his detractors.
I was not very familiar with the character of Roza Robota, but I had a vague recollection of having heard her name before. Kaela Hernandez portrayed the character and gave us a feeling for her strength and her vulnerability. She got across to the audience how Roza displayed her courage in the face of fear. She did not want to die. Still, she did what needed to be done. That came across very clearly in her performance.
Bobby Sands was a young Irish nationalist. Javi Ybarra did an excellent job of capturing his strength and his Irish swagger. I especially enjoyed when the other characters exhorted him to sing an Irish drinking song. He proceeded to deliver the song (about himself) in a really pleasing and very natural way. I felt we could have been in a pub in Belfast.
The set was simple, as would be expected for an outdoor show, and very effective. It kept the focus on the characters on the stage. The sound added to the atmosphere of the show without being distracting.
The show runs just an hour. In that hour the writer, directors, cast and crew do so much to help the audience stop and think. As the show ends, it is not really a conclusion but the beginning of thinking about, and perhaps researching, the stories of these characters portrayed on the stage.
September 12-14 & 16 5 PM, 2 PM matinee Sept 14
$5.00 general admission. $3.00 students