Friday, February 9, 2018

Reel to Reel ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

In John Kolvenbach's 2009 "Goldfish" at the Magic Theatre, Andrew Pastides played an introverted young man who was pursued by a beautiful young woman seemingly out of his league. Kolvenbach's newest play, "Reel to Reel," which is having its World Premiere at the Magic, also involves Andrew Pastides as an introverted young man being pursued by a beautiful young woman. Clearly, the playwright has a rich fantasy life, and equally clearly, the fatal attraction of this young woman to this young man makes no sense. But hold on. Have patience.

"Reel to Reel" is a tour de force, a show that intrigues, involves, surprises and rewards the watcher with a complex story about the beauty of storytelling as well as the power of love.

The two characters are shown at three points in their lives: Ages 24, 42 and 82. Zoë Winters as the younger two Maggie 1s and Carla Spindt as the older Maggie 2 are perfect in their roles. Winters also plays the hysterical Betty, friend to Pastides as Walter 1. Oh man, can Betty scream.

Will Marchetti plays Water 2, whose career as a filmmaker has not produced the lasting art that his wife's has. Her splicing together bits of random recordings of their lives -- on the reel-to-reel tape recorder that gives the show its name -- is the last piece for us to unravel in this unusual but fulfilling drama.

The decision to have the actors making the sound effects on stage is a curious one. For this viewer, it works OK, but it brings us into the theater instead of allowing us to remain within our characters' lives.

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Reel to Reel" Four Stars. Writing and directing, both by Kolvenbach, acting and staging earn one star each. The show makes you work a little. There is much to see and enjoy.

"Reel to Reel"
The Magic Theatre
Fort Mason, Building D, San Francisco
Through Feb. 25

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