Director – Jared Culpepper
Set Designer – Heidi Diederich
Lighting Designer – Sam Nance
Costume Designer – Jen J. Madison
Props Designer – John Harvey
Sound Designer – Jared Culpepper
Stage Manager – Benjamin Schroth
Jamie – Kelly Stewart
Clark – Steve Robert Pounds
Reviewed Performance 8/16/2014
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I love a light show. I don't mean lights in the sky set to music. I mean a production unencumbered by so many technical effects to make the actors a mere piece of the tapestry. And it's not because it gives me less to write about in a review, it's because simple shows boil down theatre to its purest essence: actors, an audience, and a quiet place to perform. None of the Above from Churchmouse Productions is wonderful in that regard. For the most part it's two actors acting with only the necessary set and a few light and sound effects for support.
None of the Above premiered at the Ohio Theater in New York City in 2007. Productions of it have been critically acclaimed at various theaters across the country since then. It is the story of Jaime, a seventeen- year-old, spoiled, private school- attending girl and her SAT tutor, Clark. Jaime's father hired Clark in the hopes of inspiring his daughter to earn her way into a good college. Throughout the play the two butt heads and slowly reveal pieces of their personality to each other, finally reaching an understanding. The performance is full of laughs and a few sentimental moments.
Jared Culpepper's sound design is perfect and excellently executed for the play. Entering the theater, the audience is greeted by jamming club music and East Coast pop. It sets the mood and prepares the audience to be thrust into the world of an Upper East Side, Manhattan teenage girl. Between scenes, the same style of music is used, the songs often containing a commentary on the scene preceding it. Throughout the show certain sound effects are used, like an inkjet printer or beep of an intercom. All are perfectly timed and add to the scenes in which they are used.
The set is beautifully sparse. A bed is set downstage left with a desk opposite right, facing off stage. The back wall is mostly black curtains with a small shelving unit upstage and a windowed door leading out upstage center. The whole design gives a great impression of a room in a luxury apartment without being distracting or overdone. The furniture is clean and brightly colored, contrasting with the black floor and curtains around the stage, bringing the room to life.
For the most part, the lighting is a simple wash, assuring the actors are seen. However, the cyclorama through the windows upstage gives a great silhouette effect at the beginning and end of scenes. One scene ends with well placed spotlights that slowly, one by one, go out, metaphorically mimicking Jaime's process of falling asleep. All these effects enhance the performances of the actors wonderfully.
Jen J. Madison's costumes terrifically highlight each of the characters and how they are feeling in each scene. Clark enters wearing a conservative tweed jacket with leather elbow pads, while Jaime is in a simple, no nonsense, tight pants and shirt outfit. Later, Jaime wears a school uniform of white shirt, dark skirt and loosened tie as she bounces around in teenage ecstasy at the memory of being kissed by a boy, while Clark has loosened up to a light, zippered sweatshirt and jeans. We can see the characters evolving through their clothes and that is what proper costume design should accomplish.
Kelly Stewart, as Jaime, and Steve Robert Pounds, as Clark, have great chemistry and play off each other fantastically. Their lines flow naturally and without mistake. They keep the audience entranced with the lives of their characters as their secrets are slowly revealed. Stewart's bratty child Jaime cries for attention through various negative means but also hides incredible levels of intelligence and sophistication. Her characterization is one easy in which to recognize and identify. Stewart gives excellent knowing smirks as Jaime knows she is about to drop an impressive piece of information on Clark. Stewart acts flighty and whimsical one moment then quickly shrewd and business-like with Jaime's incredible ease. A brilliant performance all around.
Pounds' Clark is a lot more subtle of a performance. Clark is always guarded towards Jaime and as such Pounds has a tendency to play him rigidly. However, he does make great transitions to softness in moments where he nurses Jaime through a hangover or teaches her to count cards. Even in these moments Pounds is mindful to keep Clark's professionalism at the forefront of the character. Pounds’ layered performance completely compliments and is complimented by Stewart's.
None of the Above is brilliantly performed by Kelly Stewart and Steve Robert Pounds with great technical aspects supporting them. It is a great piece to highlight two up and coming artists in the DFW theatre community.
NONE OF THE ABOVE
at the Bath House Cultural Arts Center
521 E. Lawther Dr.
Dallas, TX 75218
Runs through August 30th
Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 pm and Saturday at 3:00 pm
Tickets are $20.00, $15.00 for seniors and students with a valid ID.
For tickets and information, go to http://www.pegasustheatre.org/churchmouse or call Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006 (option 1).