Jul. 04, 2012 - Issue #872: The Beer Issue
The personal and professional struggles of life can be difficult territory to navigate. Famed Italian filmmaker Guido Contini is no exception to life's complexities as he faces writer's block and essentially a mid-life crisis.
In his time of struggle, Contini turns to the many women in his life, alive or dead, past and present, to help him overcome adversity. The women, from his beloved wife Luisa, to his mistress Carla Albanese, to his muse Claudia Nardi, each play a pivotol role in Contini's life and are vying for his devoted affection.
Weaving in the past, present and imagination posed a challenge for director Kristen M Finlay, but it's one she tackled right from the start with Nine. She immediately got to work with each actor to ensure they understood the shifts between reality, imagination and memory.
"You've got to keep up, but it's an exciting ride," Finlay notes.
The story has caught a great deal of attention through numerous Broadway revivals and a feature film version released in 2009 starring an A-list cast. Finlay says its popularity not only has to do with the enticing musical score, but also with delving into the fascinating idea of artistic genius.
"I think we're all fascinated by that in pop culture—how does that mind work?—so that's the drawing force," she adds.
The relationship with the women has also been an element that Finlay says struck a chord with audiences. Each is very different from the next, both physically and in their personality. Even though Contini sees each as a "type," Finlay strived to make each actress get in touch with who their character is beneath the surface.
One such woman is Albanese, whose relationship with Contini is built on a purely sexual foundation. Actress Erika Noot, who describes herself as more modest than Albanese, says it was a chance for her to explore a personality very different from her own, which included learning how to pole dance over the past three months of rehearsals.
"Some of the characters I've played in the past have been kind of cartoony and silly, and there's a realness to Carla that wasn't in any of the other characters I've played. It's been really cool to explore just her natural instincts and the heartbreaking things that happen to her," Noot says, adding men can also relate through Guido's need to have different women in his life. "He wants that woman who can be the wife, who can also be the lover, who can also be his inspiration, so I think guys relate to that concept. They want the whole package."
Cory Christensen, who plays Contini, says while his character makes choices that are frowned upon, such as having a mistress, he views each of the women in his life with love and adoration. He adds part of his charm is in the fact that when he's with each of them, he's completely in the moment, not thinking for a second of anyone else.
"I'm starting to find there's a fine line between a reason and an excuse, and I think Guido, he makes some bad choices, but he's honest, and I think that's the thing that's endearing about him," he continues. "Maybe it's just a cliché for men, but we have sort of this middle age crisis, there's less years ahead of us than behind, have we contributed? Is my life worth anything? And Guido is starting to look at that too."
Wed, Jul 4 - Sat, Jul 14, 8 pm
(2 pm matinee Sun, Jul 8)
Directed by Kristen M Finlay
Walterdale Playhouse $14 – $18
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