18 HOLESby Gene Kato
Director – Lindsey Humphries
Set Design – Dave Tenney
Lighting Designer – Dave Tenney
Sound Design – Jason Rice
Property Design – Terrie W. Justus
Costume Design – Brittany Lindsey
Fight Choreographer – Joseph L. Taylor
Stage Manager – Darcy Koss
Lyle – Doug Latham
Doug – Mike Partyka
Hal – Jared Seman
Arty – Parker Niksich
Ivan – Clint Prentice
Nate – Fernando Hernández
Triona – Annika Horne
Norma – Nancy Lamb
Erwin – Ronnie Giddens
Geraldine – Vandi Clark
Hattie – Mary Campbell
Yvonne – Jessica Roth
Sydney – Christine Engel
Paris – Jeremiah Johnson
Reviewed Performance: 4/24/2015
Reviewed by Scott W. Davis , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The show follows four groups of golfers through an entire round of eighteen holes of golf. Each hole has a different vignette on one of the groups’ trials and tribulations as they meander through life or through the hole. Doug, Hal, and Arty are the first group seen on Hole 1. Doug is a middle aged man and father to Arty, a young pre-teen. Hal is Doug’s friend and golfing partner. On Hole 2 is Ivan and Nate, young men trying to find the elusive beer girl, Triona. Hole 3 has Erwin and Norma, an elderly couple competitive as any twenty-year-old. Last but not least are the foursome of Geraldine, granddaughters Yvonne and Sydney, and daughter Hattie, with their trust caddy Paris. Geraldine, the matriarch of the family, tries to get all three to realize life is more than a box of chocolates. All the while, grounds’ caretaker Lyle is watching and interjecting at the most opportune times.
Lindsey Humphries took on the challenge of leading the cast through this new work while also challenging her design team. First off is the decision to perform the play in the round in a space that is only eight to ten feet tall. The lack of height made lighting a huge problem. Dave Tenney handled both set and lighting design so through it all he knew the monster he was building. The set was well thought out, making good use of all the entrances that Rover’s new space offers. There were seating areas facing a putting green in the center of the room, so as you walked in it was like walking the fairway to get to your seat. The entire floor has been raised and covered with Astroturf, and to my amazement, there was a sand bunker right in front of the first seating area.
And, with the low ceiling, Tenney chose to light the area so the audience wasn’t blinded by the light. The areas were in focus but in several scenes it was difficult to see the actors. I do have to say the lighting for the monologues was exquisite. While most of the scenes looked exactly the same, when actors went into a monologue, Mr. Tenney oversaturated the stage enough to pull out of reality but still be able to see the actor clearly. It definitely tickled my color bone!
One of the more noticeable challenges Ms. Humphries had was in casting the play. While most were cast correctly, a few were not. Erwin is married to Norma, a sixty five to seventy-year-old retiree. Erwin looked maybe forty five and was unconvincing. The play talks about Yvonne being forty one. When it was mentioned, the two men next to me both glanced and shook their heads. As cast, Yvonne looked maybe thirty at the most.
In a comedy, timing is everything, and in this production it lagged. One entire scene had the audience watch two people play putt-putt for almost ten minutes. The director could have cut twenty to thirty minutes by tightening up scenes and pushing through the long monologues. Several actors were having trouble with lines which really slowed the pace as well. With all that, there were still some parts of the play I could really relate myself to.
Sound Designer Jason Rice went to town with this production. Every monologue was underscored with nicely selected music. Sound placement was so good it really brought all the golf ball hits to life. Mr. Rice had sound coming from every direction and was perfectly timed with the action.
Brittany Lindsey did a fabulous job costuming such a large cast. The Star Wars Coffee shirt that looked like a Starbucks logo with a storm trooper in the middle had my nerd side chuckling. She separated the cast members by their group, so when the family of women came out they all coordinated with each other, making it easier to discern the time period. The only thing I didn’t like was the groundskeeper’s hat which had a curly pony tail coming out if the back of it.
The properties for the play were perfect. Terrie Justus’s job was massive as the number of golf clubs used would have filled seven or eight golf bags. Everything looked authentic and, from the flag pole and flags to the sunken hole, the props really made the production seem that much more realistic.
The majority of the cast was impressive in their delivery. The first person is Lyle the groundskeeper, played by Doug Latham. Now his was not the same groundskeeper as Bill Murray in “Caddy Shack”; Mr. Latham took Lyle in a more melancholy way. His delivery was slow and methodical but it worked well for his character.
The first group on the links is father Doug, played by Mike Partyka, friend Hal, played by Jared Seman, and Doug’s son Arty, played by Parker Niksich. All played well off each other, especially Mr. Partyka who went above the mark during his fight scene with Doug’s son. You could see the adrenaline building during the fight scene. Jared Seman’s performance was equally as good. I think Mr. Seman’s performance was really good to tell you the truth. Hal becomes the compassionate one and literally with the tough love shown helps Doug and Arty through the tough times they’re having. All three made the scenes extremely believable with their energy levels.
The second group was the comic relief twosome. Ivan, portrayed by Clint Prentice, and Nate, portrayed by Fernando Hernández, are two good friends. Nate is trying to boost the morale of Ivan by getting him a date with the beer Girl Triona, portrayed by Annika Horne. While all three have hilarious moments, Mr. Hernández took the cake in his ability to maintain a deadpan look while delivering some of the best lines. But the scene that really showed these three off was the fight. Joseph L. Taylor’s choreography was so tight and fast paced your eyes got tricked into thinking they were really hitting each other. While both Mr. Prentice and Mr. Hernández gave a solid performance, Ms. Horne stole all their scenes. She also succeeded in her ability to take on a Scottish dialect and I think we’re going to see a lot more of this young lady.
The third group to come through the country club is Norma, played by Nancy Lamb, and Erwin, played by Ronnie Giddens. Ms. Lamb did a comedic sequence before her every putt that made me just have to laugh. She looked so serious through each routine and was so convincing that I may try it the next time I play golf. Mr. Giddens had good, solid delivery to his performance and I don’t want to sound negative but he did have trouble conveying a man who was supposed to be twenty years older. With that said, There was one particular scene I loved where Mr. Giddens switched from being angry to being regretful in a split second. What a marvelous job he did with that scene.
The last group on the links is a foursome like no foursome I’ve seen before (because there’s a caddy with them)! It’s made up of Grandma Geraldine played by Vandi Clark, Hattie the Mother played by Mary Campbell, Hattie’s sister Yvonne played by Jessica Roth, Hattie’s daughter Sydney played by Christine Engle, and the caddy Paris who is portrayed by Jeremiah Johnson. It’s tough to play against several seasoned actresses at the same time but the whole group gelled together in great harmony.
Vandi Clark did a fabulous job in an extremely difficult role. For the front nine rounds she acted like a grumpy grandmother, while in the second act she had to break the character down to start showing her feelings. What a wonderful job she did with this. Her posture perked up and her facial expressions from Act 1 to act 2 were totally different.
While Ms. Clark had to change, Ms. Campbell didn’t. She stayed just as miserable and whiny from beginning to end. While Ms. Campbell’s character had some pivotal moments in the play, I never really saw any change in her delivery. It was a solid performance but there wasn’t a lot of character arc to it.
Christine Engle’s Sydney wants to become a fashion icon, and she’s also the love interest of Paris the caddy. One could see her character change just by watching her posture and movements. While Sydney is talking to her family, Ms. Engle became extremely stiff and precise, but the minute Paris pops in she went all bubbly.
Jeremiah Johnson’s portrayal of Paris made him the perfect comic relief at the right time. Talk about facial expression. As he carried not one, not two, not three, but four golf bags at a time, his expression of agony could be seen from every corner of the theatre. He was so well versed, though, that he exquisitely played off of every character he encountered. He and Ms. Engle both shared a nice chemistry as the secretive couple.
Jessica Roth had a more difficult time playing Yvonne realistically due to the difference in her age as opposed to the character. She played the part well but it was hard to believe she was the one giving the best life decisions out of the four of them. Her monologue in the second act was impressive though. She stood on the platform and took control of her scene, and very person in the audience knew where the spotlight was at that moment.
18 Holes is a production with challenges. The play itself is written to be long. You’re looking at eighteen different vignettes in two acts, and that’s going to take up time. I do believe there are ways to cut the play and maybe should have been done for this production. An almost two hour forty five minute run time is long for even the most seasoned theatre goers. If you’ve got three hours to spare, go to Plano and see it for yourself.
221 W. Parker Road, Suite 580
Plano, TX 75023
Runs through May 16th
Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Saturday, May 2nd, at 2:00 pm.
Tickets are $16.00 on Thursday and for the matinee, and $22.00 on Friday - Saturday.
$2.00 student/senior discounts, and group discounts, are available.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.roverdramawerks.com or call the box office at 972-849-0358.