Emperor of America
This was probably one of the most frustrating performances I have watched, on account of it being one of the best shows around when each segment is being reviewed separately, but as a whole piece, it was difficult and confusing. I saw the show with another person who agreed with this opinion afterwards.
The music is done by a trio who use a variety of instruments, such as; a double bass, a fiddle, a bass, acoustic and electric guitar and some of the percussion family. They perform on stage throughout the entire play and are my favorite element of the show. Their mixed sounds of hillbilly rock and blue grass create another dimension to the performance, and the sound effects produced are brilliant accessories to the atmosphere.
The costumes; corsets and stockings, vests, braces and Levis – are authentic to mid 19th Century America and the accents are also well done, to help set the scene for this cirque style western. The ability of each performer is stellar; well delivered lines, facial expressions and timing, all are on form and they each perform more than one character each. Subtle costume changes help to differ between the varying characters, which is all done on stage in front of the audience and the musicians also move to new parts of the stage to help outline scenes with a change of location.
However, there is a complicated story line of one plot and two sub plots too keep up with. I am not sure if it was because we got too caught up in paying attention to the quirky details of the show, or if we were just too tired by the stifling heat of the venue, but neither of us managed to fathom out the story to any mutual end. We discussed it at length afterwards, but our perceptions had varied well outside feelings and opinions about the performance, into disagreeing on the actual plot line itself; as to which actor played each character, and indeed at one point, even who each character was meant to be!
Reading up about the show prior to viewing it is advisable, having some context on the characters in advance will be of great use to an audience member. Parlor girls, drunks, bar brawls, murder, singing and comedy all feature in this Breadknives production. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Bobbi McKenzie