“The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” is just as likely to capture your soul as it is your attention.
The National Theatre of Scotland opened Carolina Performing Arts’ 2012-13 season Sunday at Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery’s Back Bar. The sold-out show runs through Thursday.
Melody Grove precisely portrays Prudencia Hart, a traditional folk studies scholar. Throughout the show, Prudencia loses some of her inhibitions and embraces modern culture.
While researching her thesis, Prudencia stumbles upon a bar rich with drunken revelry on the mid-winter solstice. She later falls into the hands — and the heart — of the devil, played by David McKay.
Throughout the play, audience members are more than observers — they are part of the show, from a seemingly spontaneous lap dance to an all-inclusive chant.
Before the show begins, the actors serenade the audience with traditional Scottish ballads and encourage the creation of faux snow made out of shredded napkins.
Imagination is the most important tool in the actors’ arsenal, and their implementation of various feats is a highlight.
In one scene, to create the illusion of Prudencia driving, the ensemble uses flashlights as headlights and turn signals and a violin bow as windshield wipers.
In another scene, Colin, the hero of the play, portrayed by Andy Clark, is depicted driving a motorcycle. A kazoo creates the sound of the bike while actress Annie Grace waves Clark’s scarf in an imaginary wind.
The actors make great use of the space, weaving their way through and climbing on top of the sea of tables, filling Back Bar with rhythmic, lyrical narration.
The imaginative nature of the show climaxes before intermission in a scene set in complete darkness.
Prudencia searches for a bed-and-breakfast in the snow with a flashlight, while unseen actors verbally create a sense of unease, circling the bar yelling words such as “dark” and “fear.”
After intermission, the show slowly regains energy, eventually reaching the same level as in the first half.
While the show has its share of serious and touching scenes, comedy prevails.
A scene featuring most of the actors wearing lipstick, boas and masks while singing Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” is the paramount of hilarity.
During this scene, Prudencia sits demurely on the sidelines.
But at the end of the show, in contrast to the traditional Scottish opening music, Prudencia concludes with a slow, haunting a cappella version of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” sung to the devil.
While the song initially seems out of place, the rendition is a satisfying ending.
This creepily enchanting and hilarious production of “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” reveals itself to be more than just a good time — it’s a bit of magic.
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