- OnStage New England Critic
Meredith NH - Now playing on The Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage is the world premiere of The Almost True and Truly Remarkable Adventures of Israel Potter, American Patriot. Written by Joe Bravaco and Larry Rosler it is based on the only historical novel by Herman Melville: Israel Potter: His Fifty Years in Exile. The play follows the fifty years of worldwide travel that took Israel Potter away from his home in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts and introduced him to a wide range of characters during the time of the American Revolution. His strongest desire was to return home to his love and his life. It is that desire that keeps him moving, working and fighting for his beliefs until he makes it home.
Imaginatively directed by Matt Cahoon, assisted by John-Michael Breen, the dynamic six person cast delightfully brought to life dozens of characters, in multiple countries and with a variety of accents all with minimal time for costume and wig changes. While there were a few snafus with costumes and lines, overall they did a great job transitioning from one character to the next and keeping the audience connected to the story.
The cast includes Mike Newman in the title role of Israel Potter. While he only played one character throughout the production he still had his work cut out for him as he almost never left the stage and if he did it was only for a moment or two. This gave the audience the opportunity to watch his character develop and change over the fifty year period. Newman fully embraced his character and clearly showed every nuance of Israel and how he changed during the course of the play. With Newman leading the way it didn’t take long before the audience became fully engrossed in Israel’s story and worldly adventures. Fully supported by fellow cast members Brent Alan Burington, James Hesse, Molly Parker Myers, Rebecca Tucker and Nicholas Wilder they worked together to create the vast world of the play and its many inhabitants. Two favorites were Rebecca Tucker as King George and James Hesse as John Paul Jones. Tucker’s portrayal was humorous and very well performed. Hesse was strong, commanding, and amusing as the pirate turned captain.
The highlight of this production was the impeccably well designed set by Dan Daly. It was not only detailed, inventive and wildly creative, but also fully functional in its ability to create the many different scenes and locations within the play. The use of props and furniture as things other than what they were was incredible. For example, books were being used as birds, a spyglass, decanters, children, and gardens, among other things. This set is possibly one of the best I have seen at the Playhouse. It and the play overall was further enhanced by lighting from designer Coby Chasman-Beck and costumes by Lori McGinley.
This production of …Israel Potter, American Patriot is a thought-provoking historical comedy and is best appreciated by an adult audience. It plays at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse until August 13th with performances Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Matinee at 2pm on August 8th. Tickets range from $18-$31. For additional information and tickets visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org
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