GREENSBORO NEWS AND RECORD
Review of professional theatre in Greensboro
Special to the News and Record
by Becka Powers
An enthusiastic audience gave a well deserved standing ovation to Jordan Rhodes and Lynn Moore in the new play, PAPA: "the man, the myth, the legend." The play is a tribute to Ernest Hemingway and was performed Saturday night in the Gail Brower Huggins Performance Center. The performance was a benefit for The American Diabetes Association. The play takes place on the last day of Hemingway's life and very much like the saying that "one's entire life passes before one's eyes before death," he starts with the shotgun at the ready. Rhodes then treats the audience to nearly two hours of the life and times of this American icon before pulling the trigger. Quite effective theatre!
Lynn Moore has an actor's dream role, being able to play five different parts in one show. By the use of wigs, unobtrusive costuming and understated energy she portrays the women in Hemingway's life that are seen in memory. Ms. Moore's subtle interpretation offered an excellent contrast to the forceful Mr. Rhodes. Her poignant portrayal of Mary Hemingway was almost as powerful as the music she wrote and performed for Papa. Ms. Moore is an accomplished jazz musician and released a CD of the music from the show.
Rhodes brought energy and empathy to the role, making Hemingway's lust for life as well as his fight with his own inner demons apparent to the audience. Seeing the man demonstrate bullfighting techniques and then describing the fireworks in the air, made one see the bull fights in Spain. And then when he spoke of the trials and torments of writing, the author who "lived it up to write it down" revealed the suffering that Hemingway endured first from the critics and then from not being able to write in his later years. Jordan Rhodes, who has performed in over 200 film and television roles, has enough physical similarity to the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning Hemingway to lend instant credibility to the performance. The set and props are authentic to the time period and the lighting is effective and quite sophisticated.
The show was written by playwright Ken Vose and Jordan Rhodes and directed by Michael C. Sapp and is touring the southeast before heading to New York.