Driftwood Players

"Beethoven's Tenth" May 1987

By Peter Ustinov, Directed by Jane Mezera and Gloria Ingram

Bob Neisinger, Nancy Neisinger

Keith Kessler, Kate Pavletich, Nancy and Bob Neisinger


Keith Kessler, Dick Lane

Tricia Thiessen, Dick Lane, Ernie Ingram

Mike Dugan, Dick Lane, Bob Neisinger

Bill Bilsland, Dick Lane

Kate Pavletich, Dick Lane

Dick Lane, Tricia Thiessen

Bob and Nancy Neisinger, Keith Kessler, Kate Pavletich

Dick Lane
Pictures by
George McCleary

From The Daily World, Saturday, May 16, 1987

Driftwood conducts flight of fancy with Beethoven

By Petra Lehman
Daily World correspondent

The Driftwood Players' production of Peter Ustinov's witty play, "Beethoven's Tenth," is an artfully directed flight of fancy with a flawless lead.

It's a wacky concept, typical of Ustinov: A maid in a contemporary theater critic's household conjures up the presence of Ludwig van Beethoven for a visit.

Beethoven wrote most of his great works while totally deaf. But, presto, in the 20th Century he gets a hearing aid.

Can you imagine composing without the ear to correct and articulate the score? Better yet, imagine the overwhelming sensations of Beethoven, hearing his completed works almost 200 years after his death. It's magical.

These are the threads that bind "Beethoven's Tenth" together. The directors are Driftwood veterans Jane Mezera and Gloria Ingram.

It is a difficult play to stage, due to its structure, which makes the pacing awkward. There is a great deal of verbal pomposity and inside musical joking that require an attentive audience.

The entire cast deserves kudos, not only for consistently good acting but for producing an ensemble piece.

Dick Lane's portrayal of Beethoven is flawless. There would be a temptation in a character of this stature to overact in an attempt to match the bigger-than-life legends with bigger-than-life words and actions. But the Ph.D. from GHC resists this temptation and delivers a Beethoven who is warm, wild, willful and real.

Lane does a particularly nice job portraying the composer's "discoveries" of 20th Century life. There's a marvelous bit when he tries to find the other two legs on a modern chair.

Bob Neisinger plays Stephen Fauldgate, a music critic who is coincidentally writing a book on what Beethoven's 10th symphony might have been like (hence the title of the show. Beethoven, you see, only wrote nine symphonies). He is a caustic critic, and Neisinger plays him with appropriate self-indulgence, arrogance and sardonic style.

Keith Kessler plays the critic's son, an aspiring composer of -- what else? -- symphonies. Kessler is particularly good at portraying a martyred sensitive artist, withering under the roof of his father's acrid criticism. His scenes with Beethoven are wonderful because they're so honest.

Mike Dugan plays a small part well. He is the ear doctor who fits Beethoven with a hearing aid -- with the delightful English wit and style of Monty Python's John Cleese.

The second act of the play moves in a vague manner from memories of Beethoven to interrogations and resolutions with the family. But that's the fault of neither the directors or the cast. It's Ustinov's style. The transitional aids of taped conversation and lighting are extremely effective, however.

This play presents an evening of quality theater to those willing to suspend their disbelief and simply be entertained in an exploration of the imagination.

There are four more performances, May 22 and 23, and 29 and 30.

The cast in order of appearance: Stephen Fauldgate, music critic, Robert Neisinger; Jessica Fauldgate, his wife, Nancy Neisinger; Irmgard Austrian Au Pair, Kate Pavletich; Pascal Fauldgate, son, Keith Kessler; Ludwig, Dick Lane; Dr. Jagger, Mike Dugan; Father Fylde, Bill Bilsland; Countess Guilietta Guiccardi, Tricia Thiessen; Count Robert Gallanberg, Ernie Ingram.

Set Design by Michael Bennett; Lighting by Tom Laidlaw; Sound Design by Craig Mehlhoff.

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