BWW Reviews: MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE Opens at The Living Room Theatre in Kansas City
The world premiere of Master of the Universe opened Friday night June 13 at The Living Room Theatre in Kansas City. The science fiction retelling of Georg Buchner's Woyzeck was written and directed by Kyle Hatley. Sean Hogge scored and supervised the music and the epilogue was written by Charles Fugate and edited by Hatley.
My question to Hatley is; many great plays have been made into movies, so who will play Victor. Master of the Universe is the best play written by a local writer that has come to life on stage. Hatley stated he has rewritten the play 10 times since the initial rehearsal, including the night before the only preview showing. He went on to say that, he would continue to rewrite it throughout the Living Room Theatre production.
Georg Buchner began writing his play in 1836 and it remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1837. A host of translators, editors, and authors finished the work posthumously. It is the story of the drastic effects of the military and doctors on the life of a young man. In Hatley's modern version, rather than face his wife after failing to get into the Special Forces, Victor attempts to take his own life, another thing he failed to do.
This is also the complicated story of a man, who loves a woman but that love is not returned to the same degree. It is the story of a man, suffering from the head wound, who deals with his own inner emotions, learning that he does not have to play the hand dealt him, he is the master of his own universe. It is also the story of the extreme human feelings of jealousy, and giving into those feelings.
Rusty Sneary stars in the leading role of Victor Christian Woyzeck. This is without question one of the best performances Sneary has given in his professional career. He is powerful and dynamic as he struggles with his own demons, desires, and pitfalls.
Vanessa Severo brilliantly plays Ani, the demon that tries to control not only Woyzeck's mind but also his every action. Her ability to change her personality within a character is remarkable. She brings a subtleness to the sarcastic humor that Hatley has written, with a natural ease that erupts the audience in laughter. In her second role, that of a mystical fortuneteller, her performance is as magical as the character she portrays.
Charles Fugate, one of the finest actors in Kansas City, plays the duo role of The Captain, who convinces Woyzeck to go back into the Army, and The Astronomer who teaches a young Victor. In every role, that I have had the privilege of seeing Fugate perform one thing is consistent; he gives it his every being and makes it his own. As the captain, he is strong and sadistic, but as the astronomer, he is kind and giving, and only an actor as diverse as Fugate could handle them both.
Two young actors Andrew Stout as a young Victor and Leah Slemmons as Marie as a Girl are among the other members of the cast. Stout has a fantastic stage presence, delivering each line like a veteran of the craft three times his age.
Master of the Universe runs through June 29 at The Living Room Theatre at 1818 McGee. For more information and tickets call 816-533-5857 or visit The Living Room Theatre website.