Saturday, April 12, 2014

Black swan, ghosts and bottles of wine: By the Bog of Cats a mesmerizing tragedy at Marjorie Lyons Playouse, Shreveport

By the Bog of Cats is a harrowing tale set on the Irish heath. Fri night at Centenary College a young troupe of actors brought the tragedy to the audience with aplomb.

The restless heroine, Hester Swane, is bitter because her husband of 14 years has left her. In the everyone-knows-all world of an isolated Irish community, he is about to marry the respectable girl.

Burying a black swan, conversing with ghosts, confronting the wedding party with her beauty and her tragic nature, actress Jordan Fell played the demented Hester with steady intensity. While the quality of her brogue made her difficult to understand at times, the key words and elements of her lament were continually clear.

The tale includes a shamanistic figure called Catwoman, played by expressive actress Sandy Rather. On Friday night Rather's shining eyes and embracing smile were framed by an epic coat of cat furs.

The boiling stage energy was intensified by the arrival of actress Heather Hooper, playing the unbalanced mother of Hester's husband. Hooper adeptly played the woman for both pathos and laughs.

And on the topic of comic relief, it must be noted that another master actor, John Bogan, has the minor role of the dodgy priest. On Fri night Bogan's witty timing provided ample relief from the tale of catastrophes.

Josie, the daughter of the heroine, was saucy, obeisant and sympathetic. She was brought to life with capable clarity by 14-year old actress London Todd. Her musicality, diction and appealing appearance tempt one to say a local star was being born on the MLP stage.

Nathan Gauthier and Ashley Frisbee were convincing in their roles of the husband and new bride. Jonathan Slocum and Clint White were articulate in their characterizations of a ghost and the father of the bride. But the driving appeal of the Bog O Cats is in playwright Marina Carr's canny use of the myth of Medea as the ribs of her Irish tale.

Highly recommended if you are weary of bread and circuses.

Sat, Ap 12, at 8 pm and Sun, Ap 13, at 2 pm. Marjorie Lyons Playhouse. MLP box office (318) 869.5242. $15, 10, 5.

Photos of the Fri performance.

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