KILL THE MOMENTby Scott Gibson
Produced by Jason Rice
Directed by Lisa Hale
Assistant Directed and Stage Managed by Zoelyn Copeland
Costume Design by Paul McKenzie
Set and Lighting Design by Cameron Hefty
Properties Design by Robin Daffinee Coulonge
Gina - Rachel M. Carothers
Trent - Young C. Lee
Carol Ann - Sara Lynn Wright
Gus - J. Kyle Harris
Reviewed Performance: 3/8/2012
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The unexpected appearance of a stranded motorist at the home of the former soap opera actress sets in motion a violent chain of events that includes lies, blackmail, betrayal and murder. Bodies refuse to remain buried, or dead for that matter, and tend to reappear at the most inconvenient moments in a plot that turns morbid, darkly comedic and wildly unexpected.
This Regional Premiere by Rover Dramawerks is definitely one for the "who-dunnits" who love great plot twists. A small but confident cast brings to life (and deaths) good writing and keeps you engaged throughout the performance.
Let me first begin by giving commendation to the entire production staff, crew and actors for representing the "show must go on" mantra so very well. The evening of the reviewed performance, the Cox Building Playhouse had a major issue causing an enormously distracting noise. The curtain speech announcer apologized for the problem saying, "The fire marshal has promised it will be fixed tomorrow" and asked for the patron's patience and understanding. I highly commend all at Dramawerks for pushing forward with their opening night amid such a distraction.
Direction by Lisa Hale is very focused and concise. She uses the performance space well and has purpose in her direction. The playing area is a thrust stage with the audience on three sides, literally in the action. This can be a daunting task for a director but Ms. Hale meets the challenge well. There is a lot of physical interaction in the play and it never seems fake or contrived. To Ms. Hale's credit, she handles a very complicated script that takes a majority of the first act to "set-up" the rest of the play and keeps you interested. You have to follow along very closely so as not to be lost later when multiple plot twists occur, and Ms. Hale guides you to that point very well.
Paul McKenzie's costume design works well for the story. The script relies heavily on hint and innuendo, for example a brief view of a specific button down shirt that is later referenced, and Mr. McKenzie does the script justice with his choice of looks for the cast. Each character's personality is represented well and never seems out of place. The actors look comfortable, move well and nothing looks sloppy or unrealistic.
Set and Lighting Design by Cameron Hefty is very well executed. Specific details, required by the script, are perfect and nothing is distracting. The scenic elements are beautifully done. Abstract pieces like a jutting out suspended roofline and exterior walls of the cabin sets the location, and a lovely wood floor and great wall detail sets the interior.
The main action takes place in the living room of the cabin and Mr. Hefty lays it out well. Items that look handmade, like the robust coffee table made from tree stumps with a small bar and sitting area flanking it, make you feel as if you are in a secluded, yet modern space. The lighting accents every area well and cues are appropriately placed. There are a few places located on the extreme outer areas of the space where the actors tend to be in the dark but as I mentioned, this space layout poses challenges. Overall, the scenic and lighting elements support the production well.
The story is based around Gina, played by Rachel M. Carothers, who does a nice job in her role. Ms. Carothers is expressive, delivers her lines well and keeps you engaged. You never question her portrayal (until you're supposed to) as the helpless victim in the story and you follow her character throughout the production closely. Overall her performance is well executed and very professionally done.
Young C. Lee, playing the blackmailer in the story, has a difficult role to present. It is physical, complicated and requires a lot of focus. Mr. Lee delivers a good performance throughout the play and keeps you engaged. There are a few line deliveries that are a bit rushed and difficult to follow but I believe opening night jitters were more at fault than talent. As the play progressed, Mr. Lee seems to settle into his role, becomes more confident and makes very good choices for his character.
Carol Ann played by Sara Lynn Wright does a wonderful job in this role. She is direct, engaging and draws you into her part of the story very well. Playing everything from a teasing seductress to the hapless victim, Ms. Wright chooses the right delivery for the scenario and is a pleasure to watch on stage.
J. Kyle Harris's role as Gus is very well done. He chooses perfect deliveries with his performance, never taking it too far or undercutting the character. Mr. Harris has a commanding stage presence and you never get bored with his performance. Without giving too much away (it IS a who-dunnit after all), it takes a talented actor to be onstage a very long time with no dialogue yet be an integral part of the action. His biography states he is new to the DFW area and it will be a pleasure to see this talented actor performing across the metroplex in the future.
Rover Dramawerk's Regional Premiere of Kill the Moment is a nicely executed production of a murder mystery. If you're a fan of plot twists and who-dunnit's, you will definitely not be disappointed with this evening of theatre.
Rover Dramawerks, Cox Building Playhouse, 1517 H Ave, Plano, TX 75074
Playing through March 31st
Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 pm, with a matinee performance
Saturday, March 17th at 2:00 pm
Tickets are $16.00-$20.00.
For more information or purchase tickets online, visit www.roverdramawerks.com or call the box office at 972-849-0358.