BWW Reviews: CLASS is Class At the Falcon Theatre

Class/by Charles Evered/directed by Dimitri Toscas/Falcon Theatre/through April 19

Charles Evered's West Coast premiere Class is a lovely piece of theatre currently onstage at the Falcon Theatre through April 19. It's always great to see a good script be given a laudatory production with fluid staging by director Dimitri Toscas, two sensitive performances from Gildart Jackson and Callie Schuttera, and a superior set design from Francois-Pierre Couture. It's a flawless experience that makes you realize just how much value theatre has in our lives.

On the surface Class is an acting class in New York City, but turns out to mean much, much more. Jackson plays Elliot, a washed-up actor, who has gained an excellent reputation as a coach and teacher. Schuttera is Sarah, a big overpaid movie star, who sacrifices a lot by putting her life on the line to become a real respected actress. Of course, Elliot does not realize who she is - she doesn't tell him - until he sees her face in a movie print ad spread across the side of a Manhattan bus. At first glance she comes off as brash and conceited, with a big chip on her shoulder, a la Lindsay Lohan, who offers to pay Elliot a good amount of money for his private instruction. First big mistake for a no-nothing film talent approaching a God-like figure in the theatrical temple of acting is to equate money with learning. It's a no, no! "You cannot place a monetary value on what I am about to impart to you" was a quip heard personally many years ago from the renowned Stella Adler to one of her working Hollywood students. Although Elliot is reluctant to take Sarah on, he finally gives in and what results is more than a lesson in the art of good acting. Sarah has a serious problem and Elliot is emotionally restricted as a result of a past relationship. Both need desperately to connect to one another, and thus the crux of the play; surviving optimally becomes the top priority.

As in all fine writing, Evered laces the situation with subtle humor and lets us in slowly, step by step, to the personal issues of the two characters. Sarah eventually confides her secret to Elliot. At first, he is drawn to her and feels sympathy, but when she tries to help his career and delves into his personal background, conflict erupts once more. He breaks off their professional arrangement, and it's shaky going right up to the final resolution. A somewhat happy ending should only come at a price, at least in a respected, well-constructed play, and Evered succeeds quite admirably. Toscas' direction and pacing are smooth throughout, and Jackson and Schuttera deliver the goods consistently in just the right proportions, allowing the audience to relate appropriately. Jackson brings a fiery glow to Elliot's bigger than life charisma, and Schuttera adds warmth and great depth to Sarah's complex portrait. Once more, I cannot praise enough Couture's set, a wide open bare bones theatrical stage with costume racks on both sides, where the actors make their changes in clear view of the audience, and a small platform stage just right of stage center, serving as the classroom space. Its breadth and scope really add credence to Shakespeare's quote "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."

Summing up, Evered's Class truly is a class act at the Falcon. As two-character plays go, this ranks right up there as thoroughly absorbing entertainment. And the message? There is no better lesson in how to live one's life to the fullest: don't lose the connection!

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From This Author Don Grigware

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