Quark Portfolio

It is difficult for a theater company to provide a portfolio that really conveys what we do. Still images can’t convey a good script, and even video lacks the personal immediacy that is live theatre’s raison d’être.

That said, here are a few brief video selections from two shows, and a still photo from the third. Below, you can read reviews of our past shows.

Ohio Impromptu/Krapp’s Last Tape

Memphis Flyer: http://bit.ly/2AlpFKg

Toward the end of his opening night performance Isbell struggled to detach a spool of tape from Krapp’s antique recorder. That’s all part of the show. But when the spool finally released something seemingly spontaneous and wonderful happened. The actor reeled backwards, hitting a pendent lamp hanging above his head. Planned or not, the result was more effective than any expensive special effect ever could be. The lamp swung like a mad pendulum, casting the protagonist in light and leaving him in darkness over and over again until, at last, all potential energy was spent. Action, reaction, etc. Visual metaphors don’t get much better or more basic than that.

It’s hard to imagine a more modest production than Krapp’s Last Tape and Ohio Impromptu. It’s equally hard to imagine a more satisfying night in the theater.

Broadway World: http://bit.ly/2zICgec

[Krapp is] an actor’s showcase, and Mr. Isbell is able to bring his gifts to the fore. I love his disapproving, scornful looks as he listens to the “he thinks he knows it all”-voice of his former self: Watch him, too, peel and eat a banana — a sensual experience that once might have had its counterpart in the relationship with a desirable woman; laugh, as he slips into silliness pronouncing, repeatedly, the word “spool.” His Krapp looks back at his life as if he has lived it like J. Alfred Prufrock; yet, there’s a bit of a Lear-like fury when he swats those boxes of tapes from the table or shuts down the recorder when it plays something too painful for him to hear. Watching him and listening to his remembrances, we are reminded of roads both taken and not taken in our own lives.

As a kind of appetizer to KRAPP’S LAST TAPE, there’s also OHIO IMPROMPTU, where much the same scenario seems to be going on; however, instead of a tape recorder, there’s a reader (a fine rendering by Mr. Remsen), dressed identically to a listener, who offers the protagnist’s voice . Like the recorder, that voice is stopped, backed up, and restarted and replayed — all signalled by the listener’s rapping on a table.

KRAPP’S LAST TAPE may be a short work, but its impact — and, particularly, the performance of Mr. Isbell — will linger much longer in the viewer’s mind.


Memphis Flyer: http://bit.ly/2zoKKGP

I’m glad I’ve seen Blackbird once. I’m especially glad to have seen a production so thoughtfully staged and exquisitely acted as the one you’ll discover should you venture out to TheatreSouth this weekend. Frankly, for good acting, and effective, economical stagecraft, I’m not sure I can recommend it enough.

Commercial Appeal: http://memne.ws/2zGEJFY

Years to the Day (Note: Years to the Day was presented in a downtown storefront that we converted into a pop-up theater for the month of September):

Memphis Flyer: http://bit.ly/2iH7Lu0

Maybe I have a weird sense of beauty, but I’ve got to confess, I got a little choked up when I pulled right up to the door of 7 N. Main on my bike and looked into this brightly lit shopfront on the mall. Beyond a small gallery there were some chairs set up and a small stage with a table, two more chairs and some lamps. When the lights finally went down on Quark’s production of Years to the Day, I knew anybody walking by outside could look in and watch the show. They could watch the audience watching the show. Everything was so minimal, so open, immediate, inviting and accessible. Beautiful without being remotely extravagant.[…]

The story’s set in a familiar world with an alternative history so familiar situations are presented without the usual cultural/political baggage. This nearly trigger- free environment lets us watch debates without becoming a part of them — to see the dynamics of argument, not the merits of an argument. It’s a nifty, hypnotic writing trick.

If watching two strong, unaffected actors ruthlessly going for it in a tight, high-stakes game of middle-stakes Life sounds like your idea of a good time, Years to the Day delivers.

I’m not sure what else I can say about this show without spoiling punchlines that sometimes land like actual punches.