LINKS TO REVIEWS ONLINE
The Faulkner Project: As I Lay Dying University of Maryland, Baltimore County; November/December 2006. “Absolutely riveting…”
Demotic 2006 Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California Irvine, July 2004. “Defies pre-conceived notions of what theatre is…”
Roman Forum Project 2003 Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California Irvine, March 2003. “A scathing indictment of the 2000 elections, staged in the heart of Orange County…”
From a review of Dream Play by August Strindberg, adapted by Courtney Baron. Presented at Cal State University, Long Beach, March 2003:
“[Dream Play features] nicely nuanced and downright professional peformances by a number of student actors, and the direction, set, lighting and music [are] impeccable… Those students in the Cal State production who go on to act professionally will likely never get to be in something quite so intellectual again (at least not for money). And again, they all do a great job under director Robert Allen.”
—Alessandra Djurklou, Press Telegram
From a review of Willy, Mickey, and the Duke, by Howard Burman and Mat Vinson, directed by Joanne Gordon. Presented at Cal State University, Long Beach, November 2002:
“The five member cast performs as one seamless ensemble with every movement beautifully staged in stop frame perfection by coach Robert Allen.”
—Shirlie Gottlieb, Press Telegram
From a review of Order and Disorder, a workshop for American director/choreographers and students of the Palucca Schule conservatory for dance. My project was Zwischen Fear und Sex, Fünf Proben, an original work for dancers and actors. Presented at the Festspielhaus, Hellerau, Germany, June 2002:
“Robert Allen works with speech and movement…. the working method of the director includes mingling dancers and dance students with American performers who have been trained in theater. The mixture brings primarily wonderful contrasts [and] allows intensive moments in the confrontation/meetings of the nine performers.”
—Dresdener Neue Nachrichten, translation by Dr. Emma Lewis Thomas
A review of The Great Highway written for the Hammerstein Center for the Performing Arts, Winter ’87/’88:
“American theaters tend not to produce the work of August Strindberg very often except for Miss Julie and occasionally Dream Play. Therefore, seeing Robert Allen’s production of The Great Highway was a great pleasure.
“Partly out of necessity, but mostly out of aesthetic choice, Allen chose to produce the play simply, which placed the emphasis—as it should be—on the text and on the performances. The play was staged environmentally, incorporating the audience into the physical as well as the emotional world of the play. Thus, each of us went on the journey with the characters as they moved through Strindberg’s evocative world.
“The audience entered into the moody, atmospheric theater filled with crates. These crates would become the visual motif for the play—characters would emerge from them, some could open to reveal picture galleries, they could become rooms, houses, forests, villages. Arranged symmetrically they could function as a maze for the characters while evoking the images of Stonehenge or the amazing clay warriors of China. Scattered, they could become an obstacle course for the audience or even something to simply lean against.
“Allen found great humor in the play, as well as mystery, and despair. Strindberg translator Michael Meyer has noted that “a Strindberg play well acted is an almost unbearable experience, both for the audience and for those taking part. Moreover, it requires a kind of acting that . . . is not afraid to approach the precipice.” In its best moments, Robert Allen’s production achieved this extreme level in both acting and effect and made Strindberg understandable and accessible, while also terrifying.”
—Arnold Aronson, theater scholar
Two reviews of The Creditors from Fringe Festival coverage:
“Two Strindberg plays demonstrate just how important the author is to experimental theatre, even after a century and a half of varied interpretations. The Creditors, a three-character play which combines naturalism with surreal elements, is one of Strindberg’s stronger scripts, and here it is smartly staged by Robert Allen. The Henry Street Settlement’s Recital Hall is an odd venue for theatre, but Allen uses it well, and employs some terrific lighting to bring forth his ideas.
“Secrets of the Yellow Room consists of two one-acts by Strindberg. Where The Creditors allows the surreal elements of its script to come across subtly, Secrets reaches to find some in its text, and pushes them upon us. This detracts from what would otherwise be two well-staged plays centering on confrontations between two characters.”
—Peter Shaughnessy, Backstage Online
“Three actors come together at the Henry Street Settlement Recital Hall to give a spirited rendition of Strindberg’s biting drama, The Creditors. Strindberg scholar Harry G. Carlson is responsible for this new adaptation, which is thoroughly contemporary in its feel.Carlson brings out what is basic in Strindberg’s work—namely, a view of interpersonal relationships that is in tune with our own times. In doing so, he turns 19th century Swedish dialogue into our own vernacular. The Creditors deals with a volatile trio—a woman, her ex-husband and her current husband. Manipulation, cynicism, self-centeredness, cruelty, and need are all in the mix, as the three play out their games. Like a research scientist, detached but keenly observant, Strindberg dissects the three, examining every facet of each personality, and the effect of each upon the others.Though it is all talk, no action, this well-structured piece rushes on headlong, never losing our attention. Each scene is given over to different pairs—the two husbands, the wife and current husband, and finally the wife and ex-husband. In tandem they wrestle with each other and their own demons. Kevin Keaveney, Giovanni Pucci and Megan Welch plunge into this challenging work of a master playwright with considerable skill.”
—Irene Backalenick, Backstage Online
A review of August in January (February 11, 1999):
“The Outlet Theater Co., an exciting group of young actors and directors, had an auspicious debut, presenting Strindberg scholar Harry G. Carlson’s successful adaptations of Coram Populo, The Stronger, and The Creditors for contemporary audiences. The performers were all strong, attractive presences, and it appears that Outlet Theater has the beginnings of an important new repertory company.
“The Creditors was updated with spare sets and simple modern dress. Giovanni Pucci gave a splendidly taut performance as Adolf, the self-absorbed artist, obsessed with his health and his wife Tekla’s attentions to other men. Intensely propound one moment and incredibly nasty and petty the next, Pucci ran the gamut of Adolf’s emotions, making him sympathetic, no matter how ridiculously he behaved. Megan Welch was a delight as the insecure, quirky writer Tekla. Keven Keaveney brilliantly portrayed Tekla’s manipulative first husband, Gustav, in the best “film noir” tradition. Tom Ritchford’s slightly sinister sound effects enhanced the feeling that this was all a nightmare, and Robert Allen’s nuanced direction pulled all the naturalistic and surreal aspects of the work together perfectly.”
—Julie Halpren, Off Off Broadway Review
AS A PERFORMER…
Robert Allen’s performance career spans more than 10 years as a Dancer and Physical Theater artist in the US and Germany. His last public performance was in 1995….
“Robert Allen’s wonderful to watch, snaking with a rare full-body awareness, each move flowing (or rebounding) into the next with an evocative logic. His mix of physical theater, sounds, eastern and western movement forms (spiced with a rapier wit) is as marvelous…
—Lucia Dewey, Drama-Logue