Art museums are always filled with all kinds of interesting people …sometimes more interesting than the art itself. Those interesting people are the focus of “Museum,” Temple Theater’s current production. Written by Tina Howe, the play shows the audience a day in the life of a modern art exhibit at an unnamed, but obviously prominent art museum.
The story revolves not around any one character, but around an art exhibit featuring the works of three contemporary artists. The only character that remains throughout the show is the guard on duty in the exhibition room. The rest of the cast wanders in and out, each having their own unique reactions to the exhibit. The artworks comprise the set, featuring canvasses painted white, sculpture made from dead animals, and a clothesline with people hanging on it.
“Museum” is really a story about how artwork affects a diverse range of audiences in equally diverse ways. The museum-goers come from all walks of life, rich to poor, cultured to shallow. The play comes across as a commentary on the variety of American culture. Of course, it is a comedy, so nothing too deep is put forward, and it works well as such. The comedy and commentary make for an enjoyable show.
The cast of “Museum” is large, comprising 40 characters that appear during the course of the play. Just a few of them are a French couple, college students, a pair of rich women more interested in their clothes than the art, and two upscale men who are self-appointed experts of modern art. Many of the actors appear as multiple characters, and two stood out in their ability to switch roles convincingly. Macah Coates plays three characters, and switched roles so well that I did not realize that they were the same actress until I read the cast list. Anthony Woods also did an admirable job changing hats, playing both one of the upscale men and one of the artists featured in the exhibit.
The cast of “Museum” did an excellent job with an engaging and humorous story. The performance’s one weakness was that so much was happening on stage, it was hard to absorb everything. While one set of characters were having a dialogue, often the other characters on stage would be engaged in silent acting of their roles. This pulled attention away from the speaking characters, but was not so distracting that you lost sight of the story. Besides, the story and acting more than make up for any distractions that occurs during the course of the show.
“Museum” runs through Nov. 10 at Temple’s Tomlinson Theater.