Review: Fahrenheit 451 is a firestorm hit for Driftwood Players

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fahrenheit 451
By Ray Douglas Bradbury
Directed by Ted Jaquith
Produced by Woody Lotts
October 20 – 30, 2016

Review by Doug Gochanour

It’s a Firestorm Hit for the Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities.

Edmonds Driftwood Players is presenting Ray Bradbury’s incendiary look at a dystopian future as he envisioned it, remarkably from back in 1953. Many of the technological advances he suggested have appeared in our time in some form. And, the theme of censorship is reflected in our current experience with social and political correctness. There is certainly a spark of validity to the fear of government control usurping freedom and liberty in the name of some other value or security issue.

Books are outlawed in this story, and Guy Montag  (Ryan St. Martin) is a “fireman,” whose job is to seek out and destroy all books by burning them. The earliest record of book burning dates back to King Jehoiakim around 700 B.C. There have been many instances since then, including Nazi Germany in 1933, with the persecution of Jews. Today, Western governments are involved in cyber warfare over mind control involving ISIS and social media, where the attempt is made to destroy each other’s virtual writings on the Internet.

The temperature at which paper ignites is roughly Fahrenheit 451 degrees. Heated arguments may occur over this exact number, but it is the basis for this story. The McCarthy era, targeting communism, was also threatening to involve book burning as part of its methodology. This was happening at the time this novel was written.

Montag was not happy with his home life, and his work life was made unpleasant because of his firehouse boss, Captain Beatty (Paul Gliarmis.) Montag tries to be loyal to his position, but feels some conflict about hurting people and their property. It eventually drives his effort to escape his situation.

Montag gets a scorching lecture from Captain Beatty
Photo courtesy Driftwood Players

Montag’s only experience of happiness comes when he is in the company of the intuitive and cheerful Clarisse McClellan (Camisa Hensel.) She breaks the norm of the time by continually asking “why?” She introduces Montag to nature and beauty, and even love. Her disappearance is a crushing blow to him.

Clarisse lights Montag’s fire with playful enlightenment
Photo courtesy Driftwood Players

Ryan, Paul and Camisa are excellent in bringing this complicated story to life. Their portrayal of their roles is much appreciated by the audience. The entire cast and crew work very well together, keeping everything flowing smoothly.

The Production staff includes set designer Brian Lechner, sound designer Arian Smit, and lighting designer Caleb Rupert. Caleb told me that dealing with ways to depict “fire” on stage, and representing the presence of a “robot hound” using green light and sounds, were very tricky concepts. This was indeed a complex production. Those who work behind the scenes deserve recognition.

Fahrenheit 451 might just trigger some flashbacks from your own life experience, and give you pause for thought about the future you would hope for our following generations. The play behooves us to keep creativity alive, keep hope alive, and preserve the right of self-determination. These are all best served by protecting our right to possess books.

You will not want to miss the exciting conclusion of Fahrenheit 451.

Performances: October 20 - 30, 2016, Thursday - Saturday at 8:00pm, Sunday at 2:00pm, at the Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St, Edmonds. $20 general admission and Senior/Junior/Military, $18.

Purchase tickets online or call the box office 425-774-9600, option 1.


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