Fire, Ash, Smoke ... Problem Solved
Fahrenheit 451
Review by Ross Anthony

Fahrenheit 451 How appropriate that I should pick up a CD of interviews with author Ray Bradbury at this year's Book Expo America. Fittingly, I listened to it instead of watching TV news. Shutting the news off usually makes me feel good, in and of itself, but an enriching discussion with a treasured American author -- gave me that much more "fire" to fuel my thoughts that day. Some of those thoughts found their way into my newsletter in which I also mentioned the Bradbury CD. One of my readers tipped me off to a local theatre's production of "451." Seems to me, those who've read this story love it. Unfortunately for me, the one time I'd cracked the book open, it failed to pull me in. So, I looked forward to this intimate performance in my local community to tell the story.

Fahrenheit 451 Ironically though, its own dialogue pretty much limits this story to book form. The whole tale is a love affair with the book. It even goes as far as to portray reading as a dangerous addiction when set in the context of a future society where knowledge and thinking are considered so foolish that the act of reading is illegal. The dialogue criticizes TV, and rightly so, as a dumbing instrument of information distribution since it doesn't allow time for the viewer to think. Good point, but what makes films or plays so different?

Here are some of my observations of this performance:
Done Well:
Bradbury mocks TV with a faux interactive reality show that keeps the public entertained, but of course, happily ignorant. This production group executed this A/V clip with sweet satire and panache. The set itself is concisely designed and economically realized. It's the perfect backdrop for a theatre this size. The firemen costumes are likewise sharply styled. They look familiar, yet futuristic - just the right amount of the surreal. Lastly, making real, the most metaphoric element of this extended metaphor, for sure a challenge - I enjoyed how they brought "the hound" to life with green light and an audio-manipulated growl. And I thought Stephen Robert Wollenberg as Dr. Faber breathed a strong life into the presentation.

Needs Improvement:
Transitions were rough and bumpy both in mood and probably scripting. The subtle give and take between Montag and Beatty felt clumsy when it needed to be finessed. Some of the soliloquies certainly bordered up against baroque and even into snooty. As not to be confused with the wall TV "family theatre" show, Beatty's library should not have been projected using the same means. Further, given the theme, his and Mrs. Hudson's libraries should have been made up of actual books. Aside from Faber, none of the characters won me over emotionally. Dialogue felt rather "your turn, my turn."

Neat story idea, rather poignant and insightful themes, but a bit clunky in presentation and perhaps adaptation. I enjoyed how books are portrayed as alluring evil pleasures. Our current rebellious youth should be so brazen as to read.

The Bradbury CD I mentioned is available through the NEA's program BIG READ.

-- Book Contest --


  • Fahrenheit 451. Copyright © 2008.
  • June 8th, 2008 Fremont Centre Theatre, South Pasadena, California. A Pandemonium Theatre Company Production. Directed by Alan Neal Hubbs. Starring Lee Holmes, Michael Prichard, Tanya Mounsey, Joan Jack, Jessica D. Stone, Stephen Robert Wollenberg. Written by Ray Bradbury and based on his novel. Produced by Ray Bradbury and Racquel Lehrman.


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Thursday, 12-Jun-2008 15:00:22 PDT