By James Manso
November 3, 2017
It is difficult to take classic pieces of art and rework them in an enriching and satisfying way. How does one make it fresh, while maintaining the essence of the original? Which aspects of the character are worth keeping, and which are better left behind? Where is the line drawn between a brilliant reiteration, or a disrespectful knock-off? The key, as I found out after watching Tisch New Theatre‘s Little Shop of Horrors, lies in the thoroughness of a production.
This brilliant, complex take on an otherwise caricatured play spared no detail (I couldn’t stop noticing that the small wall clock, in the background of the set, was adjusted to show the appropriate times of day for each scene that took place).
Even more thorough than the inventive costumes and set design were the portrayals of these classic characters. While I would typically say the cast did an unbelievable job, they did not – it is an actor’s mission to be believable to the audience, to let their spectators assume the characters are not actually characters, but perhaps alter-egos, and that is what this cast had achieved.
The female lead, Julesy Flavelle – who sparkled from the moment she stepped onstage – delivered an incredibly nuanced portrayal of Audrey: soft-spoken when lashed out at, and affirmative when clinging to her convictions. This flavor of realism was balanced out by the ever-quivering browline of Daniel Youngelman, who played the male lead, Seymour.
The production had incredibly tense, serious moments – the various deaths, and the subsequent turmoil Seymour faces for his complicity in them, are heightening. The final deaths of the show, and the following number, take a turn for the kitschy; bringing the show to a full-circle, warm-hearted end, in spite of the traditional doom-and-gloom dénouement.
Each actor brought their personalities onstage with them, creating an eclectic, loud, heartbreaking and entertaining dynamic for just over two hours. The tiny theatre in which it was performed practically burst at the seams from the constant belting, yelling, crying, and laughing, only rendering the experience that much more intimate.