Category Archives: Reviews

CFF17: IS THAT ALL THERE IS? Review

IS THAT ALL THERE IS? presented by Cincinnati LAB Theatre as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

CFF_Is That All There Is“I have not plans to stop singing. What are you going to do when you love music? It’s a terrible disease. You can’t stop.” -Peggy Lee

Jaren Doren handles the role of Ronald/Rita well, but I think he could safely go bigger in personality without becoming a caricature. I would also encourage more stage drinking to better establish his issues with alcohol.

As Ronald’s sister Tess, Danielle Muething strikes a nice emotional balance between sibling and in a way, rival. Her relationship with childhood friend Chad also felt genuine and she handles his original song very well.

Sean Michael Flowers is fun as Chad, but he seemed more comfortable behind the piano. I thought his original song was a good fit for the show.

I did enjoy how the visit from his sister happened mid-transformation from Ronald to “Rita.” The half completed make-up added a surreal quality and really emphasized his/her facial expressions.

While I understand that the playwright was being purposefully vague, there were several instances where few more tidbits of information could have made the dialogue seem less repetitive. Overall though, a strong first effort from Sara Mackie.

Three performances remain through June 10.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

CFF17: GOD OF OBSIDIAN Review

GOD OF OBSIDIAN presented by Gideon Productions as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief. –Wikipedia

CFF_God of Obsidian

Mac Rogers as Nathan & Rebecca Comtois as Alice.

Gideon Productions ups the creep factor with a strong, engaging script from playwright Mac Rogers. I enjoyed the Brothers Grimm undertones to the story.

As Alice, Rebecca Comtois is fascinating to watch as her new and happy relationship descends into one of mental abuse and manipulation. Emotionally, her performance rings true and believable as she struggles to remember who she is and reassert her independence.

Mac Rogers is equally strong as congenial and earnest Nathan. Even though the character doesn’t change much superficially, the machinations under the surface are there and fascinating to watch. He pretty much embodies that “he was quiet and kept to himself, but always seemed so nice” serial killer quality.

Director Jordana Williams keeps the pacing strong and uses the play space effectively. The upstage use of the bridge worked very well. There was one point near the middle of the performance where I felt it was starting to lose momentum but the show quickly rebounded.

At the performance I attended, part of the “fun” of the performance was the audience’s physical and verbal reactions as the story unfolded. Very interesting, well-written and strongly performed, but I felt like I needed a shower after it was over. The final performance is tonight, June 5th.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

CFF17: LARRY 13:2 Review

LARRY 13:2 presented by Muwahahaha Productions as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

CFF_Larry 132“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers…”

As much as I enjoy a performance in the moment, it’s when I sit down in front of the computer to put my experience into words that I come to realize how much I enjoyed a production. Color me impressed with LARRY 13:2.

The script by Tracy Hoida is very smart, funny, engaging and succinct. Even though religion is a central conceit to the story, I did not find it to be preachy or condescending. I also appreciated that no attempt was made to pad the story in order to push the length closer to 60 minutes. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.

Katie Mitchell is a joy to watch as Larry. High energy, fast-talking and yet always in control of herself and the situation. I look forward to seeing her on stage again.

As Keagan, Rory Sheridan is committed and believable as his character deals with the world-altering information being thrown at him.

Director Rebecca Bromels shows a deft hand in staging and pacing. At times the show barrels ahead at almost break neck speed, but Bromels also allows important moments to have the weight and impact.

LARRY 13:2 is an extremely well-written story, with compelling performances by two talented actors, and expertly directed. The synergy of the three elevates the production. Best to buy your tickets sooner rather than later. Four performances remain through June 9.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

CFF17: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF NICOLE JACOBS: PART 1: THE SISTER Review

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF NICOLE JACOBS: PART 1: THE SISTER presented by Queen City Flash as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

CFF_The Disappearance logo“They also serve who only stand and wait.”

We’ve all seen those press conferences where tearful family members plead for information and the safe return of their missing loved ones. Using this as a jumping off point, playwright Trey Tatum explores how one sister deals with the loss and scrutiny as the search for her sister drags into months.

Miranda McGee is dutiful, older sister Crystal who is struggling to find purpose in her new reality. McGee handles the conflicting emotions very well in an on-point and engaging performance.

As Daniel, Nicole’s boyfriend, Henry Eden is believably earnest and awkward. The relationship between his character and Crystal, born out of mutual loss and need, matures naturally over the course of the show.

Rounding out the cast is Cassie Delicath as the missing Nicole. Even having little interaction with the other two actors, she is still equal parts engaging and ethereal on stage.

Director Bridget Leak elicits strong performances from all three actors. The pacing is solid, yet she allows some quieter moments to appropriately linger. I never found the blocking to be confined or repetitive; very nicely done considering the limitations of the playing area.

For such a heavy topic, Tatum brings a nice balance of humor to the script that never seems forced. The dialogue is natural and appropriate for the characters. However, at times, the discourse does become a bit verbose, particularly during a couple of Nicole’s soliloquies.

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay to the show is that I’m looking forward to see what comes next in Part 2. Four performances remain through June 10.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

CFF17: MY DARLING DILOPHOSAURUS Review

MY DARLING DILOPHOSAURUS presented by Autumn Kaleidoscope as part of the 2017 Cincinnati Fringe Festival. You can read the show description here

CFF_My Darling DilophosaurusLove, loss and what a dinosaur?!?!?

Autumn Kaleidoscope takes a tongue-in-cheek look at love and obsession with this year’s entry, MY DARLING DILOPHOSAURUS.

Laura Berkemeier is appropriately perky and distracted as dinosaur-obsessed Artie. As Claudia, the put-upon girlfriend, Sara Kenny finds a good balance between love and exasperation. Always fun on stage is Andrew Ian Adams as Edward who serves as semi-clueless friend, confidant, and enabler to Artie.

In their multiple supporting characters’ roles, Kenny, Adams, and Cassidy Steele are appropriately quirky and over-the-top and generate some great laugh-out-loud moments.

The scene stealer of the show is Deanna the Dilophosaurus, well-managed by her handlers: Michael Galusick and Mandy Goodwin.

The script by Sean P. Mette is cute and clever, but could be a bit more focused. For me, a brief, final scene between Artie and Claudia could have been more satisfying.

Fun, funny and family friendly, four performances remain through June 10.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews