GREATER TUNA presented by Mitchell Squared Productions through July 31. I attended the opening night performance.
Mitchell Squared Productions was co-founded by best friends and long time acting partners Benjamin Mitchell (currently a BFA Music Theatre major at The Hartt School, University of Hartford) and Mitch Holland (a recent graduate from Webster Conservatory, Webster University with a BFA in Acting). GREATER TUNA is the group’s third production.
For me, GREATER TUNA requires a couple of elements to be truly successful. One is casting two actors who can convincingly handle the 20 characters than inhabit Tuna, Texas. Mitchell and Holland are up to that task, exhibiting strong, comic character work throughout. The other is the success of the lightning-fast costume changes. While the costumes worked well for the individual characters, some of the choices were not conducive to quick changes even with the valiant help of a backstage dresser. This caused the show to feel like individual vignettes instead of one flowing performance and many times reset the momentum with each new scene.
Director Jay Giffin makes good use of the play area and does well in establishing the relationships among the characters. Aside from the momentum issue, any further criticism is nit-picky, but hey: you invited me to come. 🙂
Sometimes with the use a Southern accents, there is a tendency to talk slowly and keep within a limited vocal range, making some of the characters monotonal. As a whole you could go bigger with most of the characters. For example, Reverend Spikes could be a bit more fire and brimstone; Bertha Bumiller could be more frazzled; and Stanley Bumiller could take a bigger victory lap.
Most of the props were pantomimed, so the choice to use several physical props was confusing. The pantomime would also work better with stronger and consistent choices as there were times I wasn’t exactly sure what was being conveyed. Stronger motivations on exits would also help.
Overall, an enjoyable visit with the crazy citizens of Tuna.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5.
Click here for more information on the production.