THE GRAPES OF WRATH presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through April 29. You can read the show description here.
Everyone involved in the production brought their A-game and it shows. The effort and attention to detail is visible in every aspect of the production and elevates the entire work.
Director Brian Isaac Phillips leads the large, strong ensemble with a deft hand and clear vision. Sherman Fracher is incredible as Ma Joad, the family matriarch. The strength and determination in her performance are palpable, as if she can will the family to a better life in California.
Solid work by Drew Fracher as Pa Joad, Jim Hopkins as Uncle John, Justin McCombs as Tom and Nick Rose as Jim Casey. I was also impressed with Jeremy Dubin’s range in portraying several supporting roles. For me, the most powerful moment of the show is Rose of Sharon’s (Maggie Lou Rader) transformation at the end of the play. The final moments, as the myriad of emotions play across her face, are near perfect.
Emotionally, favorite scenes for me include Tom’s homecoming, the end of Act I and the latter portion of Act II. I also thought the night scenes were very successful in invoking the uncertainly, apprehension and fear of the situations.
Andrew J. Hungerford’s scenic and lighting designs are extremely well-thought out and executed. The simplicity of the set pieces and the material choices created a great atmosphere for the play. The set also holds several surprises that I really enjoyed. Hungerford really puts the new LED lighting equipment through its paces. One thing that really stood out is the amount of control now available in lighting the set. Combined with Phillips’ blocking, it creates some truly memorable stage pictures.
The addition of the house band during many of the scene changes worked very well. Great work from all band members and to Cary Davenport and Jeremy Dubin who arranged the music.
Extremely well-done emotionally, visually and technically. THE GRAPES OF WRATH is one of my favorite productions of the year.
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