Maryland performances including Theater, plays, ballet and opera
- Published on Sunday, 03 June 2012 20:00
- Written by Karen Gaspers
Geographers become "unpolitic," stenographers belong to a "brotherhood," and typographers slave to a "goddamn craft" in the Iron Crow Theatre Company's presentation of "The Typographer's Dream." Directed by Michele Minnick, Adam Bock's script considers the role of a person's job in determining identity.
The play begins as an information panel, a style that it maintains throughout the performance. Three tables, three chairs, and eventually three actors face the audience. The Stenographer, the Geographer, and the Typographer, speak directly to the audience. While the characters recognize each other, they do not immediately interact, too focused on impressing the audience with the importance of their various careers. Of course, as the play progresses, the characters break free of their rigid positions to confront, question, and belittle their fellow characters.
Bock's dialogue, particularly as it intertwines, proves the strongest point of his writing. The rhetorical devices, however, unravel more slowly and with less clarity. Fraught with metaphor and over-seasoned with symbolism, the "Typographer's Dream" struggles to provide foundation for the considerations it begins to raise. After some repetitious and mildly amusing banter, each character provides a particular social criticism. The Stenographer, who records events without commentary, suggests the dangers of passivity. Meanwhile, the Geographer recognizes the necessary evils of the boundaries preventing change. Manipulating type and capitalizing emotions, the Typographer notices differences but cannot understand them.
These considerations, however intriguing, lack culmination. It might be easy to dismiss the Stenographer as detached, the Geographer as over-zealous, and the Typographer as whiny. Nevertheless, Minnick's production is enjoyable, thanks to the strong performances of Sarah Ford Gorman, Jenny Male, and Steven J. Satta-Fleming as the Typographer, the Geographer, and the Stenographer respectively.
Though the Typographer's development seemingly stagnates before it even starts, when the script allows Gorman to escape the Typographer's ironic communication difficulty, Gorman resonates with emotion. Indeed, Gorman's passionate understanding of the Typographer reveals itself before the dialogue communicates similar complexity. Even when describing punctuation marks, Gorman captures the audience with the tremor of her voice. As the Typographer struggles to grasp the nature of her existence, Gorman delivers a stunning performance that is remarkably as nuanced as it is powerful.
Male and Satta-Fleming provide adequate support, carrying the Typographer while underscoring Gorman's abilities. As the map-loving Geographer, Male infuses the audience with energy. While maintaining mountains of quirkiness, Male's earnestness prevails when such a character might otherwise grow tedious. Satta-Fleming similarly saves the Stenographer, whose passivity could render him irritating, with delicate introspection.
While Minnick has ultimately presented an engaging play, Bock's script, too muddled with metaphors, leaves the audience dazed with possibility but not quite satisfaction.
"The Typographers Dream" runs through June 16, 2012 (Thurs.-Sun. only), at The Swirnow Theatre at the Mattin Center on Johns Hopkins University's campus in Baltimore. Tickets are available at ironcrowtheatre.com.
Valerie Dunn is an English and drama double major at Washington College, Chestertown. In addition to writing reviews for the college's newspaper, Valerie is spokesperson for the Writer's Union and assistant artistic director of the Independent Playhouse. She enjoys tea and grammar.