Monday, December 17, 2007

Nikola Tesla

Tesla's Letters
by Jeffrey Stanley

The TimeLine Theatre Company's current production is Tesla's Letters by Jeffrey Stanley. The play focuses not so much on Nikola Tesla, although the idea of Tesla is important to the drama, as on the dreams and desires and misperceptions of the primary characters. One character, Daisy, is an American student studying the life of Nikola Tesla and the other is the Director of the Nikola Tesla museum who has his own dreams for the future of Serbia. The interaction of these characters, along with the Director's mother and cousin, forms the content of the play. I found the sincerity and spirit of the production laudable, but was disappointed both in the simplistic approach to the ideas being considered and in some inexplicable lapses in the presentation. The characterization of the American student, Daisy, at times came across more as "Daisy Mae"; sometimes she demonstrated an ignorance of details of Tesla's life that was inconsistent with having spent three years devoted to studying that life; and, at other times she was merely annoying. The Director of the Museum seemed to vacillate between an almost cloying sweetness and bouts of anger. Through all this the acting was adequate, with the exception of Janet Ulrich Brooks, as the Director's mother, who stood out in this small cast and left this theater-goer wishing she had a larger role in the drama. Finally, Tesla was used as a metaphor for the main action of the play; however, as a true scientific genius he deserves more.

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