THE WHIPPING MAN presented by Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati through Feb. 18*. You can read the show description here.
*Please note that three performances have been added, extending the run to Feb. 18.
Bravo to ETC for giving Cincinnati audiences the experience of THE WHIPPING MAN.
Director D. Lynn Meyers delivers a well-focused and emotionally sincere production that would be satisfying in a black box staging. The contributions of the crew elevates this production even further, making it the most memorable drama I’ve seen produced at ETC and my favorite of the 2011-12 season.
The script by Matthew Lopez is extremely-well written and layered. The themes explored in the work are well-defined and flow naturally from the three characters and their situation. No gimmicks are needed to prop up the story.
I was also impressed with the casting of the show. Both Jarred Baugh as Caleb and Mark St. Cyr as John are excellent in their roles. Exploring the ying and yang qualities of their characters is very fun to watch. Local actor Ken Early as Simon, personifies what hard work and determination can achieve. His performance commands the stage and he conquers every challenge the role demands. Physically his age and height, in comparison to his cast mates, serves to reinforce Simon’s father-figure status in Caleb’s and John’s lives.
The set by Brian C. Mehring is impressively detailed. When combined with his lighting, the two add weight to the atmosphere of the show. His efforts to mimic natural lighting during the day and lamplight at night, are very successful. Solid sound design by Benjamin Marcum also adds much to the overall feeling of the show. Also impressive was the attention to detail. Favorite examples are the wall lamps and the dripping ceiling.
It seems funny to say it, but part of me wishes that they had not been an intermission. I found coming back from the break into a “flashback” scene to be a bit jarring. It took a minute or two to fall back into the story. Perhaps a stronger visual clue would help.
A small note during John and Simon’s confrontation. I had trouble understanding what John reveals to Simon in that heated moment.
Overall a wonderful show that personifies why I love going to the theater. The momentum displayed by ETC this season is very exciting. I look forward to seeing it continue.
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