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THE FOURTH WALL

THE FOURTH WALL

by A.R. Gurney

Allen's Community Theatre

Director, Master Builder, Set Design and Costume Design – Eddy Herring
Producer, Master Builder –Joe Barr
Stage Manager, Props – Kristina Rosette
Sound Engineer – Martin Mussey
Practical Sound Design – Greg Cotton
Light Design – Melinda Cotton and Greg Cotton

Cast:
Roger: Kenneth Fulenwider
Julia: Sheila Rose
Peggy: Janette Oswald
Floyd: Kelton Neals


Reviewed Performance: 9/18/2021

Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

A.R. Gurney’s The Fourth Wall is a political satire about a suburban housewife trying to find her place in life now that the children have left the nest. She has positioned her living room to resemble a stage set, complete with faux alcohol. The fourth wall in the room (a theater reference to the invisible wall between the stage and the audience) is completely bare, with all the furniture oriented toward it. The play examines the motives behind the arrangement, along with its bigger political meaning. Theatrical references are widely dispersed throughout the play, complete with a selection of Cole Porter songs.

While director Eddy Herring’s vision was understandable, the execution was not without its flaws. The staging was done well, and for the most part the actors were on top of their lines. However, the actors labored through the show, which dragged the audience along for the not-so-subtle political ride.

Director Herring wore several hats in this production, which does earn him a round of applause! His set design was stunning, he even added a baby grand piano which was a nice touch. His costume design was pleasant, except for the tight-fitting pants on the gentlemen.

Kristina Rosette’s props were perfect for the upscale living room, from the pristine fashion magazines to the decorative China. The addition of the family pictures were lovely additions.

The sound engineering and design by Martin Mussey and Greg Cotton, respectively, were exquisite. Sound effects and music were well-thought out and the pre-show music set the mood splendidly. Melinda Cotton and Greg Cotton’s lighting design was appealingly inconspicuous. The stage was well lit with no shadows, and the wall sconces and candles added to the elegance of the set.

Peggy, played by Janette Oswald, was the aforementioned housewife with an identity crisis. With the kids gone and her less than satisfying marital relationship, she has visions of doing bigger, better things for her community and the world at large. Oswald’s performance was pleasant, and she did a skilled job of displaying Peggy’s angst, but her performance seemed a bit tired.

Kenneth Fulenwider’s Roger was an appropriately anxious global businessman, uncomfortable with the room and how he feels while in it. He wants his wife back and wants to be able to relax in his own living room. Fulenwider started the evening a little too uptight but loosened up as his performance progressed. While he was entertaining, his execution seemed a bit contrived.

Julia, portrayed by Sheila Rose, is a friend from New York City, complete with an Upper East Side attitude. She is a bit of a know-it-all, with her primary qualification being her residence in the Big Apple. While Rose did an admirable job of portraying the overbearing friend, she was a bit too pretentious at times. Kelton Neals brought Floyd to life, as the over-dramatic drama professor who is brought in to help with Peggy’s delusions but is caught up in her vision instead. His mannerisms and diction were on point, and the physical interactions with Fulenwider were priceless.

While allowing for post-tech week fatigue and a less than stellar audience, I was alas, disappointed by the production, especially considering the quality of other shows I have seen at this venue. The actors made an admirable attempt to be humorous, however the singing was lacking, and the songs just weren’t in the right key for the ladies. This wasn’t a musical, however, so I didn’t mind that too much. The pace dragged and the overacting didn’t help this so-called comedy to be funny. I don’t know if this was the director’s intention or the actor’s choice, but somehow it just didn’t fit within the comedy or the writing itself for me.

The Fourth Wall plays at Allen’s Community Theatre through October 9. For tickets and other information, go to www.AllensCommunityTheatre.net.