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Opus

Music's capacity as metaphor is boundless, as we are reminded in violinist-turned-playwright Michael Hollinger's Opus, now running at Curious Theatre Company. The luxuriant wood and black bowed bars of the set echo in the timbre and vibration of the instruments and characters that comprise the fictional Lazara Quartet, a high-strung combo on the verge of chamber music stardom.

Eric Sandvold as Carl
Eric Sandvold as Carl
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Hollinger leverages a series of soliloquies to quickly reveal the dispositions of first violin Elliot (Josh Robinson), second violin Alan (David Russell), violist Dorian (Bill Hahn), and cellist Carl (Eric Sandvold). It's an effective technique that quickly engages us in the interpersonal intrigues and conflicts of the group.

Bill Hahn as Dorian and Josh Robinson as Elliot
Bill Hahn as Dorian and
Josh Robinson as Elliot
Photo: Michael Ensminger
The cohesiveness of the quartet begins to come unglued on the verge of a breakthrough gig at the White House to be televised on national public television, which brings Grace (Kari Delany) into the mix. At this point, we have a pair of gay lovers (Robinson's eloquent and acerbic Elliot and Hahn's erratic but brilliant Dorian), a married man (Sandvold's sure-footed, heart-centered Carl mediates the group and delivers the climax), a single hetero male (Russell's easy going and sardonic Alan), and a single hetero female (Delany's talented but inexperienced Grace). The quartet has also been given a violin and viola made from the same piece of wood in 1710.

David Russell as Alan
David Russell as Alan
Photo: Michael Ensminger
To aficionados of classical music, the setup is irresistible, and director Chip Walton delivers a wholly satisfying, must-see production that resonates at every turn in its emotional and musical detail. The verisimilitude of rehearsals and performances are a testament to bowing consultant Diana Gatschet's convincing work: the timing of the instrument entrances and exits is impeccable.

Hollinger's script is erudite and dramatically well-crafted, delivering both thunder and lightning: the humanity of the message is inescapable.

Curious Theatre Company's Opus runs through April 24th at the Acoma Center. 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org.

Bob Bows

 

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