The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 17th

Canvas

Scenic design nearly steals "In The Next Room"

PlayMakers Repertory Company spends a good deal of its pre-production time and effort on theatrical design.

The attention to detail in thematic and structural staging choices often marks the most definite split between the professional company and the student groups that perform in the space next door to the Paul Green.

That level detail is the high point of the company’s latest production, “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play).” The rollicking Victorian sex farce has a fine set of players at its core, but the stage on which they act out their sexual frustrations and discoveries is worth the price of admission to the theater.

A trio of angular rooms on three different levels forms the backbone of the set. Stairs, doorways and an artfully hidden drop scrim provide context for the platforms, giving them depth and a sense of spatial reality. No house would ever be shaped in such a fashion, but the clever way the cast uses the stairs and levels as they run upstairs and down through the two and half hour dramedy makes the structure nearly believable.

The rooms are lavishly appointed, and the Persian rugs, faux Tiffany lamps and velvet chaise lounges fill the rooms with shape and depth. The cast flitters about the stage with ease, and they are rarely inhibited by the weight of the heavy furniture or their even heavier costumes.

A divine moment with hidden light bulbs and gently falling snow near the end of the production filled the Paul Greene with a soft, pleasing glow.

This isn’t a review; rather, it is a note of praise for scenic designer Marion Williams and her team. Their work is a revelation. How fortunate that the cast and script is almost as polished as the set.

See the set — and the play — Tuesday through Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. or at the 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and Sunday until October 9. All performances are are the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art.

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