Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 30, 2023

REVIEW: Chester Theatre, "The Making of a Great Moment"

Town Hall Theatre, Chester, MA
through July 2, 2023
by C. L. Blacke

The Chester Theatre Company opens its 34th season with Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s spectacularly zany play, "The Making of a Great Moment". This homage to the theatre, complete with a play within a play, humorously explores the sacrifices artists make for their craft and questions whether those sacrifices are worth it or not.

While there have been many great plays about the theatre, what sets this one apart is that it
takes place on bicycles in New Hampshire while camping. (And yes, the actors do “ride” bicycles on stage.) As incongruous as these elements seem, they provide ample opportunity for action, humor, introspection, and a vehicle (pun intended) to show the passage of time and place. On a deeper level, these elements also symbolize the arduous and lonely journey an artist makes to deliver a meaningful and worthwhile performance to every audience.

"The Making of a Great Moment" follows the on and offstage journey of two actors, Terry Dean and Mona Barnes, played respectively by Equity actors Bill Bowers (the great American mime) and Esther Williamson, as they tour their two-person, four-hour show, entitled “Greatest Moments in Human Achievement”. But when they are not hilariously portraying underrated moments in history and the people who achieved them, Terry and Mona contemplate under the night sky the validity of their profession, the meaning of success, and the self-doubt that inevitably arises.

This play and “Greatest Moments” both utilize all of the best characteristics of comedy, including verbal, physical, and prop. Bowers and Williamson (and indeed, Terry and Mona) play off each other almost flawlessly so that one can’t recognize the difference between the characters’ ad lib and the actors’. Stagehands who provide several functions onstage (including as backup dancers) only add to the belly laughs and deserve a round of applause of their own. While "The Making of a Great Moment" is a comedy through and through, this production also serves to remind us that we have the power to ad lib any situation and turn it into a life-changing moment.

James Barry, the Co-Producing Artistic Director, could not have chosen a more poignant play to make his directorial debut at Chester Theatre. His production holds both esteemed reverence for the artists who devote their lives to the craft and sincere gratitude for the audiences who allow them to experience these great moments together. And together we shall.