THE STRAIGHT GUYWorld Premiere
by Alejandro de la Costa and J. Kyle Harris
Director – Charles Ballinger
Scenic Designer – Alejandro de la Costa
Lighting Designer – Mark-Brian Sonna
Costume Designer – Mark-Brian Sonna
Sound Designer – Mark-Brian Sonna
Properties Designer – Alejandro de la Costa
Stage Manager – Richard CoVarn
Jason – Hal Heath
Lara – Laura Lester
Marty – Mark-Brian Sonna
Kyle – Jake Bowman
Reviewed Performance: 7/17/2014
Reviewed by Scott W. Davis , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Must be an MBS Productions, Alejandro de la Costa show!
It’s the middle of summer in North Texas and things are steamy hot, not because of Mother Nature mind you. No, it’s the heat coming out of The Stone Cottage in Addison as MBS Productions brings a new play to life, The Straight Guy, by Alejandro de la Costa.
The Straight Guy is a comedy based on stories from J. Kyle Harris’ life. While it’s touted as a comedy, be mindful that it’s an adult comedy. The F word is prominent throughout the show. Set in Jason’s apartment in Dallas, he is in need of a roommate so asks his girlfriend Lara to move in to help him out, but she declines. He then asks his long time friend Kyle to move in. Unbeknownst to him, Kyle is dating Jason’s uncle Marty. As the days go by, Jason learns more and more about his old/new roommate. Will it work out?
Charles Ballinger is no newbie to the stage or an Alejandro de la Costa play. His direction with this project is more slapstick than anything else, and even with the comedic action Mr. Ballinger adds to this show, there’s more than enough in the script to keep the laughs coming.
Alejandro de la Costa’s set is minimal, with a white couch and coffee table in the center of the open room. The wall behind the couch had a console table with a Patrick Nagel “Rio Girl” poster above it. There is a second seating area with one chair and a table sitting stage right. The simplicity of the set is brilliant, as it lets the beauty of the cottage space stand for itself. The lady next to me said she would love to live here. Mr. Costa designed the properties as well and you could see the detail that he put into dressing the set. All the knick knacks on the fireplace mantle make the house feel a bit homier.
Mark-Brian Sonna not only acts in the play but also takes care of the sound, lighting and costume design. From the minute you walk into the theater you get a gist as of how the sound is going to go through the performance. The music is newer, dance music which Mr. Sonna also uses between each scene. You could hear audience members tapping their shoes to the beat. While sound design is simplistic, the lighting is a different story. With a lack of instruments in the cottage, it’s never an easy place to light, but Mr. Sonna’s great plot sheds lights through the entire acting area. I was really impressed with his use of four LEDs he had in his plot. During day scenes they highlight the white lighting in the room, but in the evening scenes, the blue saturated light from the LEDs turned the entire cottage into a blue dream. It is impressive to see the amount of coverage he gets from just those four lights.
Mr. Sonna’s costume design is quite current with blue jeans and polo shirts you can often see around Dallas today. He does have some fun with Marty’s underwear which is in a mixture of fluorescent colors. There is an opportunity to go slutty with Lara’s outfit in the first act but Mr. Sonna accomplishes her look with a long, men’s dress shirt which actually works better for the scene.
Mr. Ballinger’s casting decisions is absolutely first class. I don’t think you could have found a more perfect and professional cast for this play. All of the actors’ portrayals are impeccable and the timing is flawless. This show never languishes. through the entire two hours.
The first scene has Jason, the extremely heterosexual, and Lara, his booty partner, on the couch discussing of all things - sex. Hal Heath is the actor playing Jason, and while his character is supposed to be flamboyant, Mr. Heath takes him to an over-the-top, portrayal yet maintains his composure through every scene. His interaction with Lara comes across as genuine so that Mr. Heath carries the persona of the character with ease.
Laura Lester does a wonderful acting job with Lara. She has a quickness to her delivery which helps move the comedic portions of the play along. The Stone Cottage’s playing area has the audience right in the faces of the actors so it’s easy to see if they’re nervous or twitching with fear while delivering lines. Ms. Lester’s performance is seamless with everything she does, being extremely animated in her characterization, which helps with in expressing Lara’s disposition.
While the interaction between Lara and Jason gets kind of steamy, the action between Jason and Kyle goes just as far if not more. Jake Bowman’s portrayal of Kyle is wonderful. There is a couple of monologues where Kyle is talking about the trials of being gay and how it has impacted him through his life. Mr. Bowman stands by the cottage’s fireplace and delivers one of those monologue’s with the most sincere look on his face, and bringing me closer into his character. Mr. Bowman gives a solid, well-rounded performance.
Finally, the play reveals Marty, the gay, middle-aged man portrayed by Mark- Brian Sonna, and all I can say is COMEDY, COMEDY, COMEDY. Each time his character comes on stage you can’t help but laugh. Mr. Sonna always has an uncanny ability to make people laugh just by his facial expressions in a play. Add some extremely fast action with a touch of slapstick, and he has you rolling on the floor. One scene has Marty running around the apartment trying to find a hiding place so as not to get caught in the apartment by Jason. For five minutes Mr. Sonna lies on the floor in front of the couch, and normally this wouldn’t be the funniest thing in the world. But from where I was sitting I could see Mr. Sonna’s face and hands, and the things he was doing while lying there were priceless. The whole group sitting next to me was laughing at the same thing.
I went to see this play after a week of high stress and no sleep. I sat let myself laugh with everyone else in that little theatre, and for those two hours all my stress went away. The Straight Guy is pure adult comedy performed by an absolutely wonderful cast. Don’t let this production get away from you this summer.
The Stone Cottage
Addison Conference and Theater Center
15650 Addison Road
Addison, TX 75001
Running through August 10th
Shows are Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 pm, with added shows on Sunday, August 10th, at 2:00 pm and Wednesday, July 30th at 8:00 pm.
Ticket prices are $19.00-$23.00, depending on the night of the week.
Tickets can be purchase online at www.mbsproductions.net or by calling 214-477-4942. You may also purchase tickets at the theatre box office 30 minutes before curtain time, if available.