Volume 96, Issue 2

Thursday, May 30, 2002
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Hobbit falls short of Grand

Movie screens heat up

Of beer and penises

Maggie's makes dinner of dessert

The Weekend rocks sweetly

Hobbit falls short of Grand

The Hobbit
Starring: Herbie Barnes, Michael Simpson, Chris Heyerdahl
Directed By: Kim Selody

3 stars out of 5

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo

While attempting to ride the powerful wake created by the huge success of The Lord of The Rings movie, the Grand Theatre seems to have faltered.

Although by no means terrible, the Grand's production of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is simply more than the cast and director could handle, both in script and scenery.

The famous tale focuses around a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Herbie Barnes) and follows his seemingly doomed adventure into a cave to meet and steal from a dangerous dragon named Smaug (Chris Heyerdahl).

With the help of a group of dwarves and a powerful wizard named Gandalf (also Heyerdahl), Bilbo sets out on his first journey beyond his place of birth, forcing him to see the world and face many different challenges.

His difficult journey brings him face to face with all kinds of sticky situations which allow Bilbo's naive character to grow and thus gain the wisdom and talents needed to face and defeat the villainous Smaug.

The entire play takes place against the grey setting of a stony mountain and the director uses a colour changing backdrop which works well to distinguish night from day and the inside of a cave from the outside.

Kudos need to be given to the small but talented cast of eight who constantly change costumes and characters to portray a variety of creatures and individuals from trolls to goblins.

Barnes deserves praise for his characterization of the overwhelmed and overburdened Bilbo. His impressive vocal range allows the audience to understand the variety of emotions the inclusive hobbit is going through without difficulty.

Other stand out characters are the three trolls that the travellers run into played by Eric Trask, Sean Baek and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee. Not only are their costumes fantastic, their voices and gestures are captivating, making their scene one of the play's best and by far the most humourous.

Despite some good performances The Hobbit simply falls short of fantastic.

A story such as The Hobbit simply cannot be told in such a short period of time. Even Peter Jackson's three hour Lord of The Rings movie could not tackle everything in the book. Therefore, many great and important scenes are not touched and others are not done proper justice. It just seems as if director Kim Selody got in over her head.

The most clear example is the lack of special effects available. In one scene where the travellers are rescued by an eagle, a cut-out silhouette pasted to a stick is used to show the bird flying. While this effect generated some laughs, it definitely took some credibility away from the performance and added to the "cheese" factor.

The Hobbit is a good family play that seems to be directed toward a younger audience. On the other hand, die-hard fans of the book are sure to be disappointed – a theatrical production of The Hobbit is simply too much to accomplish with such limited time and special effects.

The Hobbit continues to play at the Grand Theatre until Jun. 2. Call 672-8800 for ticket information.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002