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ALL NEW PEOPLE presented by Untethered Theatre Company through Nov. 30. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
Untethered kicks off their three-show season with a quirky, semi-dark comedy by Zach Braff. Audiences may recognize his name from his leading role as Dr. John (J.D.) Dorian in the TV series Scrubs, and his award-winning turn as writer/director and lead in the movie Garden State.
The four-person ensemble is very solid and works well together. Directed by Jared D. Doran, each character was well-defined and their personalities and interactions were very believable. Leah Strasser’s Emma was a personal favorite with her motor-mouth energy and a solid and consistent accent throughout the production. I would like to have seen the energy of Carter Bratton’s Charilie to be raised just a bit to bring him up to the same level as the rest of the cast. I understand that he was in a dark place, I just would have liked to have seen him a bit more impatient, irritated and snarky at times with his unwanted guests.
There were some pacing issues opening night. Part of this is due to the humor of the script. Many of the jokes come out of left field (this is not a complaint) resulting in a delayed reaction from the audience, which can throw off the actors timing a little bit. Understandable considering this may have been their first performance with an audience. Small, yet mighty, as we were, I think as the show’s audience size increases, which I’m sure it will, their energy will feed back into the pacing. Near the end of the show, as plot points begin to resolve, the script encourages a slower pacing that the actors need to be conscious of and fight against to some degree.
One aspect of the performance that did not work for me was the cocaine use by Myron (Nathan Neorr) and Kim (Mindy Heithaus). I didn’t see much difference in those characters after they snorted it. I didn’t get the increasing sense of energy and alertness, the extremely elevated mood & the feeling of supremacy that goes along with the high (Thanks WebMD).
The four video flashbacks produced by NKU Electronic Media and Broadcasting 424 – Digital Cinema Projects were excellent. Probably the best I’ve seen produced for any local production. Congratulations to all involved in creating them. During the show, a couple of the videos could have used a volume bump when they were played.
The space at Clifton Performance Theatre has its own unique challenges, and I’ve seen the both Untethered and Clifton Players work hard to overcome them. I thought the set, designed by Buz Davis and Doren worked really well. The front door unit was smartly done and made a great, additional playing space, The special stage effect at the beginning of the show worked really well and easily generated the desired response from the audience. Well done!
Overall a very entertaining piece of theater. It may keep the audience guessing about where it’s headed, but it’s a smartly written and a very funny ride to the satisfying end.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5
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