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Category Archives: Performances

Abigail Trabue, the managing editor of PerformInk KC, has named the MET’s Photograph 51 her Critics’ Pick.  Come see the show while you still can and see what the critics are raving about!  Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sun, Jan 29th at 2pm at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre.  Closing Feb 4th.

Here are a few words from Abigail’s review:

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s production of PHOTOGRAPH 51 is only the second time in my life I’ve left a theater, sat in my car and cried. If you are fortunate enough to be moved to tears by theater than you are fortunate enough to have witnessed something incredible.

[…] a complicated, honest, messy, humorous, and engaging production that fits perfectly into MET’s changeable storefront space. We get staging that is engaging, that flows seamlessly and creatively, that is motivated and clean. You see actors who’ve have formed a strong ensemble, and more than once I found myself marveling at the pace. It’s clear Paisley (who also served at lighting and set designer) understands what this play is about, the kind of hand needed to guide it, and along with Prop Designer Marc Manley and Costumer Shannon Regnier, created a world for the actors and the story of PHOTOGRAPH 51 to live in. […]

There’s a quote in PHOTOGRAPH 51 from THE WINTER’S TALE: “Come, poor babe, I have heard but not believed/The spirits o’ the dead may walk again.” PHOTOGRAPH 51 is the forgotten historical footnote of Rosalind Franklin and, in the hands of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, is the kind of art we should be creating.

Read the full review here.

Photograph 51, by Anna Ziegler, makes its regional debut at The Metropolitan Theatre Ensemble, running through Feb 4th.  This tight 90-minute play guides us through what could be a dense, dry scientific journey detailing the discovery of DNA’s double helix.  Instead, audiences are treated to a tense, fast -paced, entertaining exploration of a forgotten female scientist and the relationships that influenced her and the groundbreaking genetic discoveries of the 1950s.  Rosalind Franklin is given new life and, in an age suddenly endangering female rights, makes her story even more apropos and vital.

On stage Wed-Sat at 7:30, Sunday (Jan 29) at 2pm at the MET in mid-town Kansas City.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

Robert W. Butler at the KC Star says:

Talk about fortuitous synchronicity!

On the same weekend that millions of women around the world marched to assert their rights, Kansas City’s Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre debuted “Photograph 51,” a hugely insightful and unexpectedly moving play about a groundbreaking woman scientist who never got her due.

“Photograph 51” is less about the nuts and bolts of scientific discovery than it is about the struggles of the human heart and psyche.

[Amy] Attaway’s Franklin pulls us in not because she’s charming but because she’s so rigorous and scrupulously honest. There’s virtue in her approach, if not much humanity. Only late in the proceedings do we sense Franklin’s regrets about the ascetic, practically monkish life she has chosen.

[Robert Gibby] Brand, on the other hand, is both hugely amusing and borderline heartbreaking as Wilkins, who evolves from privileged pomposity to a genuine appreciation of his colleague that borders on romantic love. It’s a performance overflowing with small gestures and stifled frustrations, alternately comic and near-tragic.

But then all six players are superb.

Read more here.

One lady not remembered enough: British chemist Rosalind Franklin.
KC audiences are fortunate to get a glimpse of this Photograph, staged in London’s West End in 2015 and set to open on Broadway later this year (with Nicole Kidman in the role of Franklin in both productions). The piece is timely, a story not only about science and its protagonists but also about politics — the who’s-in and who’s-out in the struggle for influence, recognition and an individual’s rightful place.
The dynamic performances that Paisley elicits from a strong cast are what keep us engaged in this one-act play’s fact-based story.
Read more of Deborah’s article here.

Or Robert Trussell‘s thoughts on KC Studio in his review (click the below title for full review):

Good Performances Buoy Unique Drama About Science, Love and History

Good performances across the board elevate Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s thoughtful production of Ziegler’s 2008 play about sexism and professional competition among a group of British and American scientists who established the molecular structure of DNA in the 1950s. Director Karen Paisley stages the piece with admirable economy and precision.

One could argue that Franklin’s character is less developed than it should be, but Amy Attaway brings the role to life with remarkable precision. Her performance is an impressive succession of smart choices, resulting in a series of indelible physical and emotional snapshots. Even more noteworthy, she holds her own with the formidable Robert Gibby Brand, who plays Watkins as a man possessed of a keen intellect but precious few social graces. Nobody in town plays educated Brits better than Brand and here he delivers one of his finest performances. Indeed, Brand and Attaway together find a beating heart in a play about chilly, eccentric science nerds.

No weak links are to be found among the supporting players: Jordan Fox brings stolidity and muted passion to Don Caspar. R.H. Wilhoit, as Gosling, is a frequently comic presence whose humor never undermines the drama. John Cleary finds honest comedy in his portrayal as the excitable, impassioned Watson. And the reliable Coleman Crenshaw is memorable as Crick. Nice to see quality ensemble work.


As directed by Karen Paisley, “Photograph 51” is a fascinating, edge of your seat rendering of one woman’s fight to establish her value as a scientist and as a colleague.
A strong cast of six in “Photograph 51” at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre spins an unfamiliar, but excellently told tale of a female scientist in 1950’s Britain. Playwright Anna Ziegler recounts the work of crystallographer Dr. Rosalind Franklin and her difficult struggle for equal treatment in the workplace.
Read Alan’s full review here.

“Photograph 51″ shines light into the 1950s research and ground-breaking discoveries in DNA mapping and understanding with brilliant performances by Amy Attaway and Robert Gibby Brand.
Read full review here.

The Elephant Man returns to the Barn Player’s stage tomorrow night.  Shake off your Fringe Hangover and check out this profound piece of theatre.  This is a dream role for me and I am so excited to get back to it for the next couple of weeks.  There are some great performances happening and I’d be honored if you joined us.

Tickets are available at the door or here.  Performances run Fri-Sun until Aug 14th.  With a special Industry Night on Monday Aug. 8th.  Sunday shows at at 2pm, all others at 7:30pm.

A blogger/actor/theatre reviewer Christopher Elston, who has some very in-depth personal experience with The Elephant Man, joined us last week.  He had some great things to say about the show: I’m very pleased to say that The Barn Players met my standards and even exceeded them at some points in a very powerful and poignant piece of storytelling.”  

Please read his full review here.  You can also read about his journey discovering and studying The Elephant Man here.  It is a very interesting read.

Below is a snippet of Christopher’s review discussing the challenges of the Elephant Man role:

I consider the role of Merrick to be one of the most difficult and grueling an actor can undertake.  Not only does the actor playing the role need to be unbelievably versatile to handle the complexities of the character, he must also adopt an awkward and demanding body language to communicate the infirmities of Merrick.  With that being said, Coleman Crenshaw does extreme honor to the role.

Crenshaw certainly did his homework as he understands Merrick right down to the ground.  His physicality was tremendous, though he needs to keep that body language in mind at all times.  He made some movements that would either have been impossible for the real Merrick or done only with excruciating difficulty.  That quibble aside, his interpretation of the dialogue blew me away.

Crenshaw’s delivery is so nuanced it almost staggers the imagination.  With incredible ease, he captures Merrick’s innocence, wit, genius, fears, awkwardness, and goodness.  And he does it with a clogged and slobbering speech that still retains flawless diction.  His evolving of Merrick from frightened creature to bold man over the course of the show is a tour de force …

Thank you Christopher for the gracious review!