Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Dear Master is an intimate dialogue of letters between 19th century French novelist George Sand and Gustave Flaubert over a period of 13 years. Deeply stung by the critics, Flaubert (Michael Ray Wisely) first writes to George Sand (Kimberly King) in 1863 to thank her for her favorable review of his novel "Salammbô." This sparks a friendship lasting 13 years until the death of George Sand. Their different lives are illustrated in their interactions through letters in this 90-minute production.
Flaubert is scornful of the world outside but vowed to render it in his writing; Sand is a passionate, unswerving activist for whom art is only facet of living. Dorothy Bryant has writes some powerful dramatic threads and finely tuned, skillfully crafted language. There are significant and poignant insights into politics, art and life.
Director Joy Carlin has two fine actors portraying the famous couple. They look at each other but never touch or cross to the other side in this four-sided theatre in the square. Michael Ray Wisely as Flaubert and Kimberly King as Sand are excellent in their roles. They both give wonderful, understated performances. Wisely portrays Flaubert as a frumpy, tormented, sarcastic character and King portray Sand as a passionate woman fired by desire for justice. Joy Carlin brings out the best in these two artists.
Annie Smart has designed an attractive 19th century set in the middle of this four-sided theatre. Costumes by Anna R. Oliver are authentic 19th century outfits.
Dear Masterruns through October 2nd, 2016, at the Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison Street, Berkeley. For tickets call 510-843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org. Next up is Keith Josef Adkins' Safe House opening in November 4 and running through December 4.