The Column Online


By Mark-Brian Sonna

MBS Productions

Director- Mark-Brian Sonna
Stage Manager- George Spelvin
Costumes & Sound- Mark-Brian Sonna
Lighting & Set- Alejandro de la Costa
Light Tech- Justin Knox
Box Office Manager- Cory Wickware


Paul Fourth: George Spevin
Gideon: Brian Cook
Bernadette: Charli Armstrong
Matilde: Grisel Cambiasso
Therese: Sara Montgomery
Mark: Caleb Mills Stuart
Frederick: Michael Rathbun

Reviewed Performance: 3/24/2011

Reviewed by Shelley Kaehr, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

I've had the pleasure of meeting Mark-Brian Sonna a few times now and I am always left with the impression this is a man who is not afraid to get out of the box. After seeing The Soul Gatherer, I now know that is an understatement. Soul Gatherer is perhaps the rawest, emotionally vulnerable and exciting piece of original theater I've seen in a very long time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm like all good theatrical patrons in that I enjoy the old tried and true; those programs sure to give entertainment bang for the buck, but what I find exceptionally appealing is seeing something new. This play takes new to a whole new level. As we joked after the show, where does one go from here?

This piece is not for the faint of heart. Emotionally charged performances by Sara Montgomery, as the crippled Therese, and Charli Armstrong, as Bernadette, made this program one that would scare you to death one second and make you want to cry the next.

Special acknowledgements and kudos to Brian Cook whose portrayal as Gideon was compelling and perfectly played with just the right mix of compassion and terror. His scenes in the beginning of the play were done sans costume, and to be that vulnerable in front of a live audience takes more courage than I would ever hope to have, let alone his acting performance. I was wowed, big time.

The rest of the cast was incredible as well ? Grisel Cambiasso portrayed a heartbroken woman with such grace. Caleb Mills Stuart's turn as Mark was well acted, and George Spelvin's Paul rounded out the cast perfectly.

Based on the playwright's dream, the story causes us all to examine our inner selves, as each character must reveal his or her vulnerabilities to Gideon who takes their pain away and ushers them into the afterlife in succubus fashion.

I hesitate to say more about the story here lest I spoil all the many well plotted surprises Mark-Brian has in store for you. I will say this program is not for the faint of heart, which is one of the things I loved most about it. Please, if you haven't seen it yet, or even if you have, I urge you to check this one out. I overheard many audience members who saw this a few years back saying how much they liked this new cast, and I heard from a few friends who saw the show the first time it played who told me how good it is. They were right! Great theater should stretch our boundaries, and Mark-Brian has the hutzpah to take us to the edge and back.

Great job! I cannot wait to see what MBS puts out next. I'll be there!

The Soul Gatherer
MBS Productions
The Stone Cottage Theater, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, TX 75001
Plays through April 16th
**The play is rated NC-17 and no one under 18 will be admitted.

Tickets run $18 - $22, depending on the performance day.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Saturday, April
2nd at 2 pm.

Tickets and info are at or by calling