PHILIPSBURG:–– Many of us who have marveled at a magician effortlessly carrying out his acts of deception on stage end up asking the same question – “How’d he do that?” – Watching the opening night of the NIA Theatre Lab’s latest production, The Dude with the Golden Tune, one is left with a similar feeling of bafflement and perhaps even wonderment – “how the hell do they get in and out of those fabulous costumes so damned fast?” – Not such an easy task in the confines of the makeshift theater space of the John Larmonie Center, where the dressing rooms are literally on the stage, separated only by a thin black curtain that serves as a backdrop.
It would seem that quick changes are par for the course for the success of NIA’s latest production of “The Dude with the Golden Tune” which opened at the Institute’s Black Box theatre last Friday, with five cast members deftly moving from scene to scene with precision and fluidity, using exits and entrances through their curtained backdrops with effortless ease.
The villains are menacingly played and so are their costumes flamboyantly made. And it is that menacing element that, in some ways makes “The Dude with the Golden Tune” a sometimes frightening show.
In the 90 minutes from start of show to final bow you will be introduced to self-mutilation, a hanging, a bullet through the head, death by hypodermic needle, death by gunfire, misogyny, sexism, gender inequality, mental illness, sexual harassment, megalomania, psychosis and suicide – just to name a few. So, not quite what you might bill as good family viewing. And yet in our modern world of Grand Theft Auto and Dark Souls III, where blood, guts, and goriness are the order of the day, “The Dude with the Golden Tune” is tame by comparison and much more creative and comical.
In fact, I would go so far as to recommend this show for family viewing as one sure way to broach the subject of violence in present day society in the context of the family – and not excluding the St. Maarten family. Participation in brutal video game play is often a solitary pursuit, at best with one other opponent. There are certainly no considerations of conscience or guilt – only how many kills can be amassed in the most violent way.
I viewed the premiere sitting next to 11-year-old Robyn, who I quizzed at the end about what she had seen. She was in awe and not at all perturbed at what she had seen. While admitting that a lot of the words had gone over her head, like me, she was completely thrilled with the happenings on stage and especially – those costumes.
“The Dude with the Golden Tune, ” tells us that behind every despot is a bleeding heart psychotic, a focused individual who suffered some kind of trauma in early life, and now, many years later, is just, well, misunderstood. Yeah. Right!
There is little to the show in terms of storyline, short of that it pays tribute to just a few of the nefarious characters, without whom James Bond would cease to have any real appeal. It moves easily enough from character to character grabbing a few laughs along the way with a cast that is constantly on the go.
Look out for the bed scene in which three actors transform themselves into a bed complete with sheets, pillows the Dude and a poisonous centipede.
Fact is, the production looks into human nature as portrayed in the past, and reminds us that little has changed. There are still people around with money and power who seem hell bent on taking it all away from the rest of us regardless of the cost. It speaks of democratization of the mass media and gender inequality as one female cast member after another is herself transformed into the Dude in scenes replete with risqué and overly sexist dialogue.
Whether intended or not, the social commentaries are clearly relevant and timely too, wit a passing reference to the “Alternative Facts” (reference to a comment made by Donald Trump adviser Kelly Anne Conway as a much-publicized piece of forked-tongue Public Relations two-step) that has become synonymous with plain old lying.
We go to the theatre to be entertained. But we also go to see a part of our own lives portrayed in brutal honesty, satirically or in a comedic way. The Dude with the Golden Tune offers neither. It is a creative piece of theater in which, believe it or not, much-loved baddies are put in the spotlight as much for their own idiosyncrasies and quirks as for their taste in clothing. None of them are idiots. In fact the extensive dialogues of each villain, painstakingly and artfully delivered from monologues taken directly from Bond movies makes it all too clear that our evil-doers just fell south of the line separating their madness from pure genius.
Full credit to Loes Nauta, drama teacher at NIA, for a creative and timely production of “the Dude with the Golden Tune” and also to cast members Dieudonnee Ostiana, Alexandra Stroud, Albina Matuzko, Nascha Kagie, most of whom are experienced stage hands, especially director Loes. All are excellent in their roles with Charlotte Brookson Academy Theater Arts teacher, Alexander Stroud raising the ante with her own vocal solo at the end of the show.
The Dude can keep his Golden Tune – I think I’ll dance to the music of terror and temper tantrums long after the closing credits. It’s surely more fun.
“The Dude with the Golden Tune” will next show at the John Larmonie Center, Philipsburg, on March 25 and 31st at 8 pm.
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or via the box-office reserve line: 543 – 0600.
Ticket prices of $20 in advance, 25$ at the door. 10$ for children (7+) and students are available also from the NIA Box-office, open daily from 12:00 noon until 6:00 pm. Early purchase of tickets is highly recommended.
Source: St. Martin News Network
Lightning fast costume changes, subtle messages characterize “The Dude with the Golden Tune”