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Brooklyn On Line - The Arts Scene

31 Bond at The Brooklyn Lyceum

Reviewed by Brett Wynkoop
Jan 11 2003

What makes this a difficult review to write is that I do not want to spoil a superb story by giving away too much of the plot of this must see world premier murder mystery by Michele Aldin.

31 Bond is a story about a love triangle involving a middle aged widow, Mrs. Emma Cunningham wonderfully played by Ms. Carol Roscoe, an older gentleman, Dr. Harvey Burdell played most convincingly by George Millenbach, and the young empassioned Mr. Morris Zagler played with great zeal by Mr. Aveery Clark.

Like all stories that involve love triangles there is plenty of passion, scheming and surprise in this story. I knew things were going to be good when I walked into the theater and was greeted with strains of opera by Verdi before the show. The director was getting us into the mood for the opening scene by using the music to transport us back to February 1857 where in the opening scene we meet Mr. Connery an Irish immigrant to New York City who will be our greek chorus through out the play. John Alban Coughlan plays Mr. Connery with flair and passion. There is no sleeping in the theater while he is on stage!

After a this introduction to the play we meet our 3 principles at a party in Saratoga New York in the summer of 1855. You know of course that all the fashionable folks left The City during the summer for the milder climes of the country. The Lyceum is new, large and unusual theater space having formerly been a Public Bath House. As such it presents directors with a challenge in staging. I was pleased that this early scene made very good use of some of the special and unusual features of the space to give us the feel of a veranda with great staircases leading down to a park like lawn. Julie Fei-Fan Balzer had just passed her first great test as the director of this play with the wonderful use of the stairs and catwalk that are permanent fixtures at the Lyceum. The sets were created on the fly from four large columns and a number of smaller architectural pieces that were moved around the stage in black out. This sometimes happened when a scene lit to perfection by Joe Doran was being played in another part of the theater. I liked the blacked out scene changes while action took place on the stage as it kept the play moving at the fast pace that the story demands.

Costumes for this production were both authentic and well done. Since some of the players had quick costume changes while in blackout, Sidney Shannon had to be inventive and rose to the challenge.

Ms. Carey Urban was the perfect image of Mrs. Cunningham's teenage daughter Augusta. She convinced us that she would only marry for love in spite of the custom of arranged marriages for young ladies in the 1850's.

Of special note are Mr. Jason Heil and Ms. Ruth Kulerman who each play 4 different characters. They amaze the audience by their total transformation. There is no mistaking one character for another. This takes real talent on the part of any actor and these two show they are well in command of their art in this play.

So who does what to whom? Who dies? Who flies? You will just have to buy a ticket to find out! What ever you do you cannot miss 31 Bond. This could well be the best off Broadway play of the season!

For tickets and info: www.gowanus.com
227 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
R train to Union Street

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