Factory Theatre, July 2000
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CRIMSON VEIL PRESS:
Crimson Veil article: Eye, June 8, 2000
Crimson Veil Advertisement in Eye June 2000
in the middle
characters carry low-tech Crimson Veil
THE CRIMSON VEIL
Featuring Paul Braunstein, Kevin Dennis,
Naomi Emmerson, Kelly McIntosh, Julain Molnar, Michael McManus. Written and
composed by Allen Cole. Book by Glen Cairns, Allen Cole. Directed by Leah
Cherniak. To July 9. Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst. 504-4471. ***
The Crimson Veil sets out to revive a dying genre -- the non-mega-musical fuelled by
clever, catchy music, witty lyrics, strong plot, solid performances and the kind
of old-fashioned stage magic that relies more on fabric and trapdoors than
electronics. And it succeeds at all of these things, providing engaging
entertainment with an anachronistic feel.
plot is based on Italian fairy tales. Bruno (Kevin Dennis) is a young human who
lives in the forest with his father and spends his days practising the clarinet.
Bellinda is a fairy princess who falls in love with Bruno while wandering the
forest disguised as a deer. Both have parents who disapprove and sow distrust
between them -- which, aided by two omniverousy lustful evil fairies, causes the
trials that separate the young lovers again and again.
being a fairy tale, of course, the couple has to learn about evil and
manipulation and human suffering before they can marry. And it's impressive
that, although strictly archetypal in the way it unfolds,
The Crimson Veil story held not only my attention but that of the
seven-year-old critic who accompanied me -- for over two hours. He liked the
fact that the plot kept moving along, and by the second act I noticed I really
cared about the characters.
The Crimson Veil was first presented in a recital format, and it's clear that the
development time went into music and book rather than staging. There is
consistently resourceful use of props, and director Leah Cherniak (Theatre
Columbus) has injected some clever physical devices by morphing the human with
the mechanical (Julain Molnar portrays a prophetic clock; and at one point
Dennis becomes a statue that, like a wind-up toy, sings its sad story when its
face is blown on).
The house was full for this matinee performance, and the audience left happy. Still, I have to wonder about the ultimate fate of musicals like this, which occupy a funny middle ground. Too light for those who seek out "serious" performance, The Crimson Veil may just be too quietly well-made to compete with the high-adrenaline wonders of the mega-musical. -- REBECCA TODD </contributors/rebecca_todd/>
NOW MAGAZINE REVIEW BY GLENN SUMI
Veil too constricting
By Glenn Sumi
CRIMSON VEIL, written and composed by Allen Cole, book by Cole and Glen Cairns,
with additional lyrics by James Fagan Tait, directed by Leah Cherniak, with Paul
Braunstein, Kevin Dennis, Naomi Emmerson, Kelly McIntosh, Julain Molnar and
Michael McManus. Presented by Factory Theatre in association with Divining Rod
Productions at the Factory (125 Bathurst). Runs to July 9, Tuesday-Saturday at 8
pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $19-$27, Sunday pwyc. 504-9971. Rating: NNN
Veil too constricting
At two and a half melody
less, repetitive hours, Allen Cole and Glen Cairns's The Crimson Veil feels like
a designer straitjacket. Nice looking, but a tad constricting.
Set in an enchanted Italian forest, this musical fairy tale for
adults tells what happens when a young clarinet-playing mortal named Bruno
(Kevin Dennis) meets and falls in love with a fairy princess (Naomi Emmerson).
Not only are their respective single parents unhappy (Michael McManus and the
always thrilling Julain Molnar), but a pair of incestuous evil faeries (Kelly
McIntosh and Paul Braunstein) are on their tails as well.
Call it A Midsummer Night's Magic Flute, with music and lyrics by
Weill and Brecht.
Derivative? Of course. I have no problem with that. Everything's
derivative. Shallow characters? Yes. This is a fairy tale, not Hamlet.
What's disappointing is how clumsily composer/writer Cole and
co-writer Cairns have put together the book. Motivation in fairy tales is
all-important. Villains want things, heroes stand for something and we all
expect good to triumph over evil.
In The Crimson Veil it's never clear who wants what or why, which
makes the show confusing and puts our sympathies on hold.
Add to this the complete lack of memorable tunes and you've got a
show wandering the forest looking for something to sing about and someone to
Bright patches? Steve Ross's lighting, with its continually changing
solid colour scheme, evokes a fantasy world, while Teresa Przybylski's sets and
costumes bring imaginative life to serpents, faeries and oracular clocks.
Molnar's fairy is given an off-the-page complexity thanks to her
empathy and full-throated mezzo, while McIntosh and Braunstein make up for the
lack of plot by joking around like Angelina Jolie and bro at the Oscars.
NOW | JUN 15 - 21, 2000 | VOL. 19 NO. 42