A look at the Ashland Stage Company production, "Museum" 

A Gallery of New Talent

Tina Howe's "Museum," the latest offering from the Ashland Stage company, is a satirical and ultimately silly look at art and the reaction people have to it. The closing day of a modern art exhibition is dramatized through a cavalcade of quick character sketches. Twelve actors portray nearly 40 museum visitors, some who appreciate the art while others laugh at it, revere it, over-analyze it, or desecrate it. Howe sets up several amusing tableaux by weaving together interactions between the various characters. But the play never gathers any narrative cohesion to keep us interested or put forth a complete idea.

Still, this otherwise superfluous show sports at least one compelling reason to take the drive up Interstate 95: Director Barbara Ceci has gathered together some of the brightest new performers to hit local stages in a while. Scan the cast bios and you'll see the phrases "Richmond debut" or "new to Richmond" five or six times. While this particular production doesn't amount to much, several of these newcomers certainly will.

The exquisite K. Lindsay Kent leads this pack of area rookies, easily embodying four different characters from an overt seductress to an art neophyte lapping at the heels of the museum curator. Suzanne Reamy skillfully plays the high-brow curator who continuously spouts overly intellectual artistic analysis. As a twitchy psychotic, Steve Daljev seems barely able to restrain his manic energy. Christopher Moss oozes pomposity as an art student who dissolves into a hilarious petulant fit when confronted by a museum guard.

As the guard, stage veteran Ted Boelt presides over these youngsters like a comforting grandfather, kind-hearted but firm and often befuddled as he witnesses the parade of eccentric visitors. It's a parade that doesn't go anywhere compelling but the multitude of fresh talent makes it interesting to watch just the same.

Ashland Stage company's "Museum" runs Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. through March 5 at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center. Tickets are $15. Call 798-2991 for

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