Thursday, May 23, 2019

REVIEW: "The Hairy Ape" at Grace Campus

The cast of The Hairy Ape
by Shane Strawbridge

The west Texas wind whips, and the walls of the barn performance space rattle slightly. The sounds of trucks rumbling by on the nearby street creep into the space. This is the setting for an imaginative staging of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, currently being presented at (and to benefit) Grace Campus.

The Hairy Ape is a 1922 expressionist play by American playwright Eugene O'Neill centering around a beastly, unthinking laborer known as Yank as he searches for a sense of belonging in a world controlled by the rich. When the rich daughter of an industrialist in the steel business refers to him as a "filthy beast", Yank undergoes a crisis of identity. One can’t help but see the same great divide between the classes in our own contemporary society—especially given the evocative location of the performance.

REVIEW: "9 to 5" at Lubbock Community Theatre

Kelsie Curry, Erin Castle, Annie Burge,
and Chad Anthony Miller
by Shane Strawbridge

Toe-tapping music. Fun choreography. Witty jokes. So what's not to like? In Lubbock Community Theatre’s production of 9 to 5, issues with mics and the sound system overshadow an otherwise strong showing from director Heather May.

9 to 5, based on the 1980 film of the same name (with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnick), follows three female coworkers as they concoct a plan to get even with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot they call their boss. Along the way, the show evokes thoughts of the #metoo movement and the battles still being fought daily by women both in and out of the workplace. The score by Parton has its share of toe-tappers (although not every tune is a winner), but the book by Resnick seems determined to forego the strong feminist revenge plot of the movie in favor of slapstick and innuendo.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

REVIEW: "Orphan Train" at Will of the Wind Productions

Hannah Burns and Brady Matthews. Photo by Josh Aguirre.
by Shane Strawbridge

“Everyone comes from someplace.”

In Will of the Wind’s world-premiere production of Orphan Train by Sylvia Ashby, we know the “someplace” where people are coming. We know where they’ll likely end up. There are no real surprises to speak of or things to keep us guessing. The thing that keeps us keyed in, however, is the joy in watching two young actors, Brady Matthews and Hannah Burns, coming into their own in front of our eyes.

In the late 1890s, the Orphan Train arrives in a small town in North Central Texas. On board are three leftovers: Katrinka Pavelka and brother Anton are European immigrant orphans who desperately want to remain together; Mike Macys is a newsboy who lived on the streets of the city. All three of them are searching for a new home. Whether or not they find it is up to the townspeople of Plainsville.