Back in the acts

By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  December 20, 2006

The second traveling theater project to deal with a socially vital issue was TWO LIGHTS’ Purple Breasts, starring Karen Ball, aimed at increasing public awareness of the personal traumas of breast cancer. A harrowing but funny ensemble play by former USM professor Daryl Lindstrom, who herself died of breast cancer, Purple Breasts has brought its empathetic message all around the state.

Civics mean something else altogether in the deep dark forest, and dramatizing this with great timing and vocal prowess was GOOD THEATER’S recent Into the Woods. Under the direction of Brian Allen, Sondheim’s sharp and difficult musical was nothing short of enchanting.

The scariest creatures in RUNNING OVER PRODUCTIONS’ latest, Wharf Rats, were a lot more cryptic, projected as they were (perhaps) by strange and dangerous minds. The debut full-length script by Keith Anctil, directed by Ariel Francoeur, had it all: creeping terror, raunch, and awesome sound design.

Last, but far from least: This fall, USM mounted a chillingly beautiful exploration of human wildness. The modern classic Equus, directed by Walter Stump and starring John Coons and the marvelous Ian Carlsen, was perhaps the most penetrating show of the year.

Also notable in 2006 were the new homes of venerable two theater groups: ACORN PRODUCTIONS joined the other artsy tenants of the lovely Dana Warp Mill, in Westbrook; and ADD VERB PRODUCTIONS moved into the old Center for Cultural Exchange, in Longfellow Square.

As the year winds down, may your own homes be constant and filled with only the most charming of dramas.

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Megan Grumbling: mgrumbling@hotmail.com

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