MARYLAND STAGE COMPANY
All plays directed by Xerxes Mehta
Photos: Mark Lee Photo, Inc.
“ ‘ A Director staging Beckett is, although committed to the prescriptions, rather free,’ notes the American director, Xerxes Mehta, also the president-elect of the International Beckett Society. His interpretation with the Maryland Stage Company of three one act plays (Play, That Time and Ohio Impromptu) was with out a doubt the high point of the festival thus far: chilling terror of form yet a soft actor’s touch. Marek Kedzierski, a polish director and co-director of the festival, called these hard core Beckett drills the Americans were performing ‘High Tech-Purgatory.’ Mehta’s interpretation of Play, which deals with the tortures of jealousy, is cool, funny and very fast. The three faces of the characters (two women and one man), placed in human-sized urns, are carved out of the total darkness of the stage, by cold, white light. The spotlights cue the delivery of lines at great speeds and the manic repetition of everlasting fresh pain….Mehta and company succeed at a frighteningly fascinating radicalization. Next to Play, The Maryland Stage Company performed an enchanting version of Beckett’s most beautiful, most tender, yet saddest play Ohio Impromptu. Anyone who missed these performances and who loves theatre should consider jetting to Baltimore, Maryland to see these astounding theatre artists on home turf.”
“As a long time follower of productions of Samuel Becket’s plays throughout Europe and the United States, I don’t normally go to Beckett festivals expecting much that is fresh or eye-opening. The Maryland Stage Company productions of Samuel Beckett’s Play, That Time and Ohio Impromptu, directed by Xerxes Mehta, however, were standout achievements in the l0-day festival ‘Beckett in Berlin 2000. All were jewels of precision and perception, shedding more substantial light on Beckett’s humor, poetry and rigorous theatrical means than any of the other productions (many by famous Beckett specialists) … The Maryland Stage Company’s work should be considered in the first rank of Beckett performance …”
“Amid the rich and diverse theater and discussion offered at the seven day symposium and fortnight-long theater festival dubbed ‘Beckett in Berlin 2000’ in September of 2000, a pair of productions in what may be Samuel Beckett’s most technically demanding theater work, Play, stole the show. The first was Xerxes Mehta’s staging at the Akademie der Kunste on l8 September with Wendy Salkind, Peggy Yates, and Bill Largess. It was so stunning an achievement…. Mehta’s production of Play made no concession on the speed of delivery, no concession on the da capo, and so may be the first English language production to get the details right and thus to allow the full dramatic impact of this play to come through. It is testimony, yet again, that staging Beckett Beckett’s way, and getting it right, down to the finest details, produces an extraordinary evening of theatre.”
"With its gorgeous look and well-paced feel, the Maryland Stage Company production of Six Degrees could be the highlight of the local summer season."
"The Maryland Stage Company's production...captures the play's essence...When [Ty] Jones is on stage, you can't take your eyes off him, which is precisely as it should be...other elements of the production are beatifully conceived, particularly the stylish costumes and sleek set by Elena Zlotescu."
"As its third annual summer offering at Center Stage, the Maryland Stage Company has mounted a most ambitious production of Guare's s 1990 work. Director Xerxes Mehta and his professional troupe based at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County return the emphasis to where it belongs--on our enthusiasm for hearing stories and our willingness to believe in them.
"For a dozen years now, The Maryland Stage Company, with its talent base in the faculty ranks of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has been wowing summer theatre audiences and critics alike with their innovative takes on theatre masterpieces. Much of the acclaim comes from Mr. Mehta's breakthrough ability to reinterpret the classics, with solid support from a company of actors whose talents match that vision, and a design team that always seems to hit the right chords...Elena Zlotescu's set and costume design is breathtaking...Matthew Frey's lighting design is similarly staggering in its excellence...Playwright Guare's title phrase "six degrees of separation" describes the phenomenon of a shrinking world where any random two people can discover a link through a chain of six acquaintances. It's a hauntingly compelling concept, and with the Internet now at the disposal of humans everywhere, it's nearly spellbinding. The play embodies the awesome quality of the statistic, and this Maryland Stage Company production finds a highly stylized, at times raucously funny, yet ultimately poignant way of stating its potential result."
"The Maryland Stage Company, now in its second summer residence at the comfortable Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, doesn't merely pay lip service to bittersweet Chekhovian complexity, it supplies enough added value to make this a hearty, at times intentionally unsettling, variation on an already powerful sumptuous theme."
Photos: Terry Cobb
"Bulging with bold strokes of the kind of toothsome inventiveness that has given The Maryland Stage Company so much critical acclaim since its inception...a production of highly memorable visual power...you will drive home smiling."
"Le Tartuffe de Mehta est le grand événement de Baltimore. Le public apprécie pleinement une production courageuse, pleine d'invention de d'humour. Mehta a formé une belle équipe de comédiens et d'artistes. Ce théâtre total est rare de nos jours. Mehta travaille comme les grands metteurs en scène européens tels Giorgio Strehler, Jorge Lavelli, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine. Ne manquez pas son Tartuffe. La production vaut un voyage de Washington ou même New York."
"Salkind plays Elmire's fake passion with such rhythmic gusto that it's almost obscene."
Photo: Rich Riggins
"This report will focus on the two American productions invited to Strasbourg: the first the Maryland Stage Company, under the leadership of one of the great stage artists working in America today, Xerxes Mehta...."
"As the 1995-96 season comes to a close, I realize that the most absorbing, mind-changing, and wildly humorous theatrical experiences I had were all in alternative houses. I wish to single out Arden Party's highly imaginative production of the French surrealist 'metaphysical vaudeville' Victor, or Children Take Over; at the Jean Cocteau Rep, Ibsen's mysterious The Lady from the Sea and a stylish Major Barbara; the world premiere of Doug Wright's Quills, an Artaudian comic portrait of the Marquis de Sade staged by Howard Shalwitz, the director of Washington, D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth; Tina Howe's Birth and After Birth at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia; Xerxes Mehta's flawless production of three minimalist Beckett pieces at UMBC (The Maryland Stage Company); Robert Scanlan's American Repertory Theater production of Beckett's 'television and video poems'; and two perfectly honed productions at the Classic Stage Company: Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane, and Odon von Horvath's rarely given Don Juan Comes Back from the War."
"Not I is associated in people's minds with two great actresses: Jessica Tandy...and Billie Whitelaw....In Strasbourg, I heard the Beckett scholar Enoch Brater tell Mehta that Wendy Salkind, a resident member since the company's inception, was in no way inferior to Whitelaw. And in this critic's opinion there has never been a better Mouth than Salkind's."
"Terry Cobb's lighting design achieved an immaterial quality. The Reader and Listener (Sam McCready and Michael Stebbins) sat close together, so that they seemed to be flowing into one another. Also, the illusion created by this magic lighting was of seeing them through a gigantic magnifying glass. What was magnified was not merely their almost motionless physical presence, but the moral pain suffered by Beckett himself, the pain of loss."
As has become nearly a given with the Maryland Stage Company, the physical production is stunning...."
"I now call it the UMBC miracle...a masterpiece of intellectual conceptualization and flawless theater craft. Every spring I travel from New York to Baltimore in orderto immerse myself in the kind of work I admire in Europe...."
"The supreme acting achievement of this production is Sam McCready's, a professional actor since the age of 12 in his native Ireland. A member of the Maryland Stage Company since its inception, McCready was most recently a deeply moving Lear and a comically tyrannical Alceste. Like all fine actors, he changes from role to role, but in The Duchess of Malfi, as Bosola, he is constantly shifting, putting on disguises, hiding himself and coming out into the open, the perfect faceless spy. And yet he is also capable of emotions, of pitying and even loving."
"The Duchess [is] gloriously played by the company's chief actress, the immensely versatile Wendy Salkind."
"Assisted by the company's superb designer (Elena Zlotescu), the director creates a nightmarish vision. Issuing from deepest darkness ghosts materialize, skeletons spewing from the graveyards of the earth. These black-clad, hooded figures are nothing but grinning skulls, and long, filament-like fingers. They are led by a horseman (the masked Bosola) riding the metal skeleton of a dead horse."
Photo: Robert Dold
"When I heard that The Maryland Stage Company, the professional troupe created at UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County) seven years ago by the brilliantly imaginative, Indian-born director Xerxes Mehta, was staging Molière's Misanthrope, I headed straight to Baltimore. From my previous acquaintance with Mehta's work, always based on a thorough rethinking of the text, I knew I would not be seeing a museum piece. Indeed, never have I witnessed a more thought-provoking blend of Grand Siècle elegance, commedia dell'arte slapstick, and comedy of character. This production does nothing less than resurrect the experimental Molière, the creator able to combine the most traditional elements of farce with a subtle probing of the human psyche. Not only do I recommend that it be invited to New York, but it ought to be exported to one of the great European festivals. Mehta's investigation of the multi-layered protagonist makes him the worthy heir of Copeau and Jouvet."
Photo: Clarence Carvell
"In Xerxes Mehta's production of Harold Pinter's Old Times, the first of the Maryland Stage Company's presentations in the city of Baltimore, the mysteries of this enigmatic drama become hauntingly clear. Which is not to suggest that they are solved, something of an impossibility in a Pinter production. Rather, they are made palpable through very clear directorial decisions about image and subject....For those critics who have sometimes accused Pinter of being cold, this production serves as a rejoinder, suggesting always the depths of the restrained passion that leads to its lethal finale.... The final moments of Old Times, the most difficult because of Kate's long monologue, are played with stunning literalness. The feeling is that one has strayed into a Shakespearean production (it is not surprising that the company recently performed King Lear). As Kate destroys first Anna and then Deeley with her words, the characters seem actually to die--Anna lies down as if killed by the speech, her hands go limp and she gives the open-eyed blind stare of the dead. The suggestion of a death for Deeley is there as well when he lies across Kate's lap, receives no response, and also goes limp. When he crosses back to his chair, his walk is that of a dead man. It becomes clear that Kate has won through to a kind of new strength at great cost. When the lights become ultra-bright on the final tableau, the effect is like the end of Lear or Hamlet. The resonance is mythic, although any sense of renewal is tempered by what has been lost. All passion spent, one feels that someone should 'take up the bodies.'....The Maryland Stage Company's production of Old Times plays the silence to perfection, the silence in which Pinter's characters most deeply reside."
Photo: Terry Cobb
"The May 1993 production of King Lear can be viewed as the second panel of a diptych that came into being last season when Mehta's Marat/Sade was coincidentally presented at the very time of the unchecked rioting in South Central L.A. Those of us who had the good fortune of seeing both shows realize once again that great theatre forces us to see what we do not always wish to look at, puts us in touch with a wider and deeper reality. These are artistic experiences capable of transforming individuals and the collective audience....For anyone who respects and loves theatre, a trip to Baltimore is as much a necessity as flying to Milan for the Piccolo Theatro or Paris for Le Théâtre du Soliel."
Photos: Terry Cobb
"New Yorkers are not aware that the most exciting, most significant theater in America is often created by regional companies and on university campuses. Such is the case with the recent production of Peter Weiss's 1964 play, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. Revived this May by the Maryland Stage Company, the professional theater troupe in residence at UMBC (the University of Maryland Baltimore County), the play was one of the stellar events of the 1991-92 season....If I had to name the most memorable productions of the year, I would choose three: Giorgio Strehler's Faust I and II at Milan's Teatro Studio, Jorge Lavelli's Comedias Barbaras of Valle-Inclan at the Paris Théâtre de la Colline, and Xerxes Mehta's Marat/Sade."
Not I, Ohio Impromptu and Rockaby
Photo: Robert Dold
Photo: Edie Catto
Photos: Edie Catto
"Genet's The Balcony is given no-holds-barred treatment. Xerxes Mehta directs flamboyantly, with great style. Salkind is a stiletto of talent, slithering into sensual slime herself at one point, as the queen bee of a whorehouse which indulges the fantasies of Paris' elite....Sam McCready is exquisite--illuminating and tricky--as a blaspheming bishop, all tarted up for teasing....Romanian costume designer Elena Zlotescu...should have a museum built in her honor....This profane show is exotically, furiously and brilliantly realized."
Photos: Theresa Airy
"Excellent casting...a beautifully nuanced performance...a richness and intensity that more famous companies and actors often lack....What the Maryland Stage Company has shown is that being in the provinces can be an advantage and provide opportunities for theatrical experiences that do not come frequently even in New York--they have created something wonderful even in the 'province' of Baltimore."
Photo: Theresa Airy