‘The Cambria’ returns | VailDaily.com

‘The Cambria’ returns

Kris SabelVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily Irish playwright and actor Donal O'Kelly and actress Sorcha Fox bring to life the story of abolitionist Frederick Douglass on Monday in "The Cambria."

Editor’s note: Director’s Corner is a weekly column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundation, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.Since there are only a few tickets left for the irreverent and always popular Capitol Steps, I want to share my thoughts on what I anticipate will be one of my favorite performances of the winter season – “The Cambria,” which plays Monday.I don’t make this claim lightly, and, to be honest, I can’t make it based on having seen the show because it’s brand-new. I base my claim on past experiences with Irish playwright and actor Donal O’Kelly’s other works “The Hand” and “Catalpa,” both of which have been presented at the Vilar Center. These performances proved to be some of the most interesting and exciting live theater I have seen. I can only hope that “The Cambria” will live up to this expectation.

It is always a risk to see live performances that you are unfamiliar with. When you go to “The Sound of Music” or “Swan Lake” you know what you’re seeing, and your enjoyment has to do with the quality of the performance more than the material. With “The Cambria,” all we have is a brief description of the story line, which quite frankly doesn’t tell us much about the nature of the evening.The Cambria was a ship that carried abolitionist Frederick Douglass to Ireland on the eve of the potato famine. “The Cambria” is a tale of this voyage and the vivid host of characters on board the fated ship, all based on real events. Abraham Lincoln once called Frederick Douglass “the most impressive man I ever met,” and I’m looking forward to learning his story. One thing I do know about the evening is that the level of performance will be amazing. O’Kelly draws you into his world where you share his journey in discovering the nature of language and performance. As a playwright, he is a master storyteller who weaves his tale in a fashion that would make any Irishman proud. Onstage, O’Kelly is joined by actress Sorcha Fox, who has one of the loveliest speaking voices I’ve ever heard. Between them, they portray more than a dozen characters, and their ability to create and differentiate between each of them is worth the price of admission alone. Their interaction is a combination of physical performance and vocal delivery with musical underscoring. It has been an honor to see them perform in the past, and I am anxious to see if they can create that magic again with this new play.

In all honesty, I cannot guarantee that you will like this performance; it may not be for everyone, but I feel confident you will appreciate the talent and artistry of these two actors. My staff and I have been eagerly anticipating their return to the Vilar Center, and we hope to see you there.

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