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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.

Mr. Evans at the KC Examiner published this review of the Fishtank’s newest show: Neighborhood 3.  We run through June 6th, each show at 8:30pm, come out and check us out if you can!  Click here for tickets.

Mr. Evans found the show intense and experimental, commenting “The two veterans of the cast demonstrate just how to delineate their characters and present a plethora of characters in this short piece. Coleman Crenshaw and Devon Burns bring a different character to each scene.”

For the full review click here.

As we enter the final weekend of Arika Larson’s emotional corkscrew of a play, White Sangria, I thought I’d gather some of the reviews here for you to check out.  Hopefully they give you that final nudge you need to come support great local theatre this weekend.

Robert Trussell, of the KC Star had this to say: Harvey Williams, the play’s director “should be commended for exposing the work of talented playwrights to a receptive audience.  On one level Larson’s play is all about raw, if repressed, emotion. But it also examines these relationships from a somewhat distant, cerebral perspective. Integrating those two strands is a challenge.”

Read more of Trussell’s review “Dark Humor and Head Games Dwell” here.

Steve Wilson of BroadwayWorld.com got caught up in the maze as well:

Larson offers up a story of a highly dysfunctional couple that is into mind games, between themselves and the couple that have invited over.  The extremely complicated relationships make it difficult to keep up with the twists from lies to truth to lies. Ben and Marla, make the evening uncomfortable and unbearable for Susan and John, setting upon them with shocking and horrifying revelations.

Read more of Steve’s thoughts here.

The Examiner weighs in with Bob Evans writing that:

The Truth and Lie Game begins as the curtain goes up and the characters reveal the different layers of their personalities. As their “new friends,” Susan and John enter the picture midway through Act I, the games get more intense in the questions between truth or fantasy really muddies the water.

Full review here.

 

Or if you are just interested in what they had to say about your favorite KC actor check this out:

“Crenshaw provides the most even performance of the night. He becomes his character from the beginning to the final curtain call.” – Steve Wilson

“Things pick up considerably after the arrival of Butler and Crenshaw, both of whom bring a welcome sense of timing and purpose to the stage. As superficial niceties give way to appalled awareness that something very weird is happening, the actors remain focused.” – Robert Trussell

“The nerdy and awkward librarian, John Martin, comes to life via Coleman Crenshaw. Crenshaw takes this opportunity to display his wonderful comedic timing and his mastery of facial reaction. The expressions he produces as Marla teases him sexually are hilarious. He walks the line between shy and excited and makes the audience feel the awkwardness of the situation that surrounds him.” – Bob Evans

Come out and see us Thursday at 7:30pm for only $15 Artist Rates!  We also run Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm for $25.  For info here.