Never The Sinner - Production Critique

Never The Sinner - Production Critique

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This paper is a critique of a production of Never the Sinner, a murder drama written by John Logan, which was performed and produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance at E.S. Strother Theatre located on the campus of Ball State University. Director Judy E. Yordon captures the viciousness and brutality of the murder of an innocent, young boy in this dramatic account of a homicide at the hands of two young men who are intertwined in a dark, sexual relationship. During the murder and trial of “the crime of the century” the director and cast portray to the audience the sheer violence and torment these two men are willing to affect on another human being for the utter enjoyment of killing another person. This is done by exposing the events of the murder to the audience and then allowing the audience to conclude the motive of the murder, by means of interpretation using the final scene as the keynote in the performance. I found the last scene of the performance to be rather disturbing to say the least.

The performers in the production were very suitable for the roles in which they were cast. Dustin Bennett (Nathan Leopold) and Andrew Burt (Richard Loeb) were excellent in their performance and portrayed their characters well. Both ideally fit the roles in which they were cast. As for the other five members of the cast they to were well suited in their roles and showed much talent in their ability to portray different characters in the same performance. Especially that of Natalie Ellis who portrayed both a girlfriend and a doctor in the play and who easily adapted to her changing roles within the scene.

The actors knew their lines of dialogue and exactly what they were talking about, which made it easy for the audience to follow along. The actors could clearly be heard and had clear enunciation, expect during the scene of the trial, in which, the police officer was on the stand. This was in part due to the fact that he was seated in an area beside the audience and it was hard to make out what he was saying because the audience was blocking him from my view. The voice the characters used was appropriate, especially during the trial when the attorneys were speaking and when Germaine Rheinhardt was on the stand. The men were harsh, loud and assertive and Germaine spoke in her sweet, innocent and naive voice when answering their questions.

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Nathan and Leopold and Richard Loeb also had appropriate voice use for their characters for example when they spoke to each other during their intimate scenes they are quiet, sincere and affectionate towards each other. All in all the voices of the character was suitable and properly used throughout the show.

When it comes to how the characters were projected during the performance, I believe all actors did a marvelous job. The way Germaine crosses and uncrosses her legs in the first scene or the facial expressions of the actors when the pictures of dead Bobby Franks are shown are all examples of how the actors portrayed their characters thoughts and emotions through the use of body language, movement and facial expression. Even the gestures used by the actors help support the dialogue of the play for example the snapping of Nathan’s fingers bring down the picture of the bird from overhead.

As a whole this cast did a wonderful job of working together and with their props. Their costumes were suitable for use during the entire play and even Germaine’s

Costumes, which changed from time to time, were quite versatile and easily altered. The props were effectively used and looked natural. An example would be Nathan’s glasses so ordinary in their use and so easily dismissed in later scenes or perhaps Germaine’s beads the way she lavishes over them and twirls making it look so usual.

When it comes to the scenery it is not exactly a believable environment. This is in part to the budget of the production and the amount of room available on stage. Even though the set is not exactly realistic it is appropriate for the type of play and provides the play with the support needed to put on an excellent performance. The time period and mood of the play is also well depicted with the use of older props such as the chairs and the color of the props which all are dark in color. The setting is easily usable by the performers and all their props on stage fit together quite nicely. Even the properties were convincing, expect for the scene in the car where the chairs were used. That scene took a little bit more imagination on part of the audience. But, overall the all elements of the performance fit together very well.

The lighting was also very well done. It came and went on all the right cues and helped portray the scenes in a dark manner. There never was much light in any scene of the performance which helped portray the gruesomeness of the plot.

The make-up of the characters is very natural looking and fitting for all the characters. Especially the make-up of the defense attorney who looked gray and worn out, even his costume portrayed his feeling of exhaustion for it was all wrinkled and dirty looking.

The sound effects were all properly timed with the props and with just the right amount of intensity. For example, the bird picture, which comes down from above, was timed to come down exactly at the same time the fingers are snapped. All the music was right on mark and aided with creating the over-all effect of the production.

Taken as a whole this performance was very well done and all elements of the production came together nicely. Never the Sinner was a superior presentation even though it depicted a gruesome, brutal death of a young child. Something that has become so readily heard of this day and age.
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