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November 1, 2012

Everyman Theatre's 'Heroes' an endearing adventure

The three veterans in “Heroes,” Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of a wry comedy by Gerald Sibleyras, cling to their little terrace at the old soldiers’ home in France as fiercely as they once held their ground against the Germans during World War I.

This is their domain, where they can avoid the glance of the facility’s head nun, and, more importantly, where they can see the promise of a better world — just beyond the poplars on a distant ridge.

“Heroes,” perfectly cast and sensitively directed by Donald Hicken, makes an apt choice for Everyman Theatre’s final production at its longtime Charles Street venue before moving to new digs downtown. Themes of memory and adventure run through the piece.

James Fouchard’s simple set conveys ...

just enough atmosphere for the adventure to play out; sound designer Chas Marsh enhances it all with evocative musical flourishes.

The aging heroes are aware of their limitations — each one has one handicap or another — but they can’t shake the urge to break free of routine, to taste something new and fresh, to demonstrate to one and all that there is a spark left.

Sure, they’re fooling themselves about how far they might actually go, just as they continually fool themselves about how much they know about women, or how attractive they still are to them.

But even if there is just a tiny glimmer of a chance that they might actually enjoy any change in the weary routine of institutional life, they’ll seize and embellish it. You can’t help but root for them all the way.

Philippe, ever so slightly paranoid and prone to pass out at awkward moments, is played by Carl Schurr with great charm. When he wanders in from a funeral, having had a spell in a particularly unfortunate spot, it’s awfully funny and endearing at the same time.

As Henri, the one member of the trio used to exploring at least some of the terrain beyond the terrace, John Dow gives a beautifully nuanced performance. His eyes say a great deal, sparkling as he recounts his thank-heaven-for-little-girls discovery in a nearby village, darkening with wistfulness as he faces some tough facts.

Completing the group is Gustave, so sure of everything, as quick with sarcasm as with flights of fancy. Wil Love handles the role deftly, letting the character’s quirks and qualms emerge in sly fashion. A scene involving Gustave’s attempt to learn an insouciant wink and nod pays comic dividends.

The slightly nutty, heroic threesome is really a quartet, since the statue of a faithful dog on the terrace figures into their lives and schemes. Keep an eye on that canine.

"Heroes" runs through Dec. 2.

PHOTO BY STAN BAROUH

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:19 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Everyman Theatre
        

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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