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The Violet Hour at The Dio – a night out with a high thinking factor. (Review) February 5, 2023

Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.

One of the things that I like best about reviewing a show is when a theater takes a risk with the material. You might like it, you might hate it, you might not get it. But it is something new and it is something worthwhile.

The Dio is currently producing such a play — The Violet Hour by Richard Greenberg (“Take Me Out”). At first what seems like a standard period piece with a slight sci-fi twist (a mysterious machine appears at a publisher’s office) turns into a mysterious, funny, and tragic tale in the second act. Listen closely. Follow the characters and their mini-dramas closely, because as the story plays out (not in any means tidy) people only know information up to a certain point. And they learn that information at a certain point. And not at the same time.

You may or may not piece it all together at once — and oh, to be a fly on the wall in the cars on the way home as people discuss their theories, who knew what when, and in the end, what the heck happened?

Matthew Tomich’s set is gorgeous, as always, and has the genuine look and feel of a NYC office building. Steve DeBruyne’s directing is fluid and fast where it needs to be, slow when you need to really listen. Food as always is outstanding. Norma Polk’s costumes are wonderful (though one character needs to remember socks next time) and Eileen Obradovich does a great job with the props — reams and reams and reams of paper among them.

The cast is very good, if a bit stylized in approach. I particularly liked Ami McClenon’s Jessie. You’ll have your favorite too — among them Dante Justice as John, the publishing house owner; Dan Morrison as Gidger, his assistant (his future disappears – but why?); college friend Denny (Alexander Cousins); and his girlfriend Rosamund (Lauren Landman). 

Clues for the novice: watch the tickets (LOOK at the tickets), pay attention to the dates in future years, and listen to early declarative statements of each character. 

The Violet Hour is currently being adapted into a musical. The studio recording is now available — it is beautiful. But do not listen to it before seeing the show, because it gives away plot points.

And to those who didn’t get it — talk to your friends on the way home. Argue about it. Think about it. That’s what you should do. You might be confused, but you won’t not have an opinion. And that is exactly what the play is meant to do.

The Violet Hour continues through February 26th at the Dio.

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