BWW Reviews: THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES Opens 'Locally Grown' Community Supported Art Festival at Theater J
Theater J opened the 2014 & 2015 Locally Grown Festival with an original one man piece: The Prostate Dialogues, created and performed by Jon Spelman.
At the core of this one man show is the reality and strength of human nature. Spelman straps the audience in for a journey that battles with mortality, masculinity and family. It is a story where there are no frills, and yet we are transported through Spelman's childhood, marriage and even to Europe as he eloquently shares his personal struggle with prostate cancer.
Spelman performs as multiple characters throughout his story, yet the transitions between the characters were seamless. They were used to contribute atmosphere and vital information to the piece, and then were effortlessly put away as he continued with his central story. What could have been confusing or jarring instead added a vitality to Spelman's work that could have seemed flat with only one tone taking over the entire piece.
This show could have been made to seem very disconnected. Spelman tells many different stories both directly along his path of prostate cancer and indirectly associated, giving the audience a glimpse of how he sees the world as a whole. Yet this piece was not only charming and relatable, but skillfully sewn together. The work of Spelman's performance and Jerry Whiddon's direction had the audience riding waves of story telling they may not have imagined when going to see a show about the prostate-riding far away from the hospital and onto a pilgrimage to the Camino de Sanitago.
The sound design of the piece, composed by Matthew Nielson and engineered by Capital City Sound, added another layer of atmosphere. As the set pieces were brought in from another play being performed at Theater J, the sound did what the set typically would do for a show-immerse the audience into the world the actor was creating for them.
The lights, designed by Dan Wagner and adapted by Garth Dolan, created an additional layer to the story, especially helpful as dramatic devices throughout the piece.
Spelman's piece does not promote a set of ideas. It does not make any claims, political or religious statements, and it does not necessarily criticize the medical field (although, the occasional flip remark such as "What do you say to a doctor who doesn't listen?" do pop up once or twice). This is a story about how a modern man deals with the unrelenting threat of mortality and possible loss of masculinity.
It is a human story, and is one that both men and women can empathize with.
The Prostate Dialogues runs at Theater J from May 30 to June 29, 2014. For more information about the show and the festival, visit www.theaterj.org.
Pictured: Jon Spelman performing in "The Prostate Dialogues." Photo by Stan Barouh.