Pittsburgh’s Quantum Theatre is a self-described “kind of laboratory,” allowing local theater artists to stage shows in places that are not traditional settings. They believe that taking the audience and placing them alongside the performers is a meaningful addition to the theater experiences. Quantum’s newest show Dream of Autumn (running through April 28th) is no different. The production takes place in a cemetery, so director/translator Sarah Cameron Sunde turned to the former Park Schenley Restaurant at the Royal York in Oakland and disguised it with old worn furniture (serving as tombstones), a large iron I-beam bench, and dusted everything with sand.
The play was written in 1999 by Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, and was translated for the Pittsburgh audience by director Sunde. Fosse is widely considered one of the world’s greatest contemporary playwrights, having his plays translated into over 40 languages and performed across the globe. Not being able to read Fosse’s original work, one must assume that something has been lost in translation. The play places its characters (“Man,” “Woman,” “Father,” “Mother,” and “Gry”) in major points of Man’s life, but juxtaposes them all together and never truly reveals to the audience when we are seeing these characters. It becomes difficult to know if we are seeing the courtship and affair of Man/Woman prior to Man’s divorce from Gry, or we are being presented a time after Man and Woman have been married.
With the play’s repetitive language and unclear narrative structure, it proves difficult to find what exactly Fosse (or Sunde’s direction) wants us to leave the theater thinking about. Do they want us to believe that life does not move in a clearly linear pattern, but in more of a repeat of all life’s memories and struggles? Do they want us to believe that death is always around us like a cemetery full of household furniture and we only have until the last grain of sand falls from life’s hourglass? Or do they want us to see that we should focus on our families, never stopping to think that individual desires are just as important as family duties? I think it’s best for each audience member to decide for themselves.
Technically the play is a feast for all the senses. Scenic designer, Narelle Sissons, and lighting designer, C. Todd Brown, do a fabulous job at turning the old restaurant into an eerie and arid landscape. Sound designer, Joe Pino, fills the space with outdoor noises, only aiding the audience to feel as if they are alongside Man in the cemetery. However, the most impressive work comes from actors themselves. Martin Giles, as “Man”, shows us a breadth of emotion for his counterpart Karla Boos, as “Woman.” We also cannot forget about Laurie Klatscher and Gregory Lehane, as the typical “Mother” and “Father.” And we certainly need to bring mention to Jennifer Tober’s portrayal of “Gry,” showing the dark side of a grieving mother and jealous ex-wife.
My only complaint is that sometimes sightlines become an issue, so do arrive early to find a seat near the center to be able to see these wonderful actors throughout the show’s entirety.
What is it?
Quantum Theater’s production of Dream of Autumn
When is it?
Runs until April 28th, Wednesdays through Sundays, 8:00pm
Where is it?
The Former Park Schenley Restaurant at The Royal York
3955 Bigelow Blvd in Oakland (map)
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
How much is it?
$35-$48 depending on the day
$18 with a valid student ID
Pics by @DalePuppy