Grand Concourse (review)
THE PREAMBLE: Richmond is blessed by a relatively large number of strong theatre companies. Unfortunately, most of them want to do new work and there are only so many good new plays available. As a result, we see quite a few productions that are better than the play itself. This show is yet another example. (A less-successful script can cost half a star in the rating.)
THE PLAY: Life in a soup kitchen: a nun who struggles with her faith, a young woman with issues, an energetic Latino helper and one of the “guests.”
THE PRODUCTION: The show pivots around Dawn A. Westbrook’s performance and she brings insightful depth and moving emotional truth to her role (esp. the devastating cat scene). Joshua Gutierrez’s charisma and energetic physicality dominate attention when he’s onstage. He and David Clark’s interesting characterizations add comic warmth without resorting to punch lines. Katie Ellis perfectly personifies adolescent conflicts and confusion. The staging by Chelsea Burke adds life to the interactions. Particularly interesting was her decision to let the cast handle prop duty in the semi-darkness that segues into the next scene. The set by David Melton makes a remarkable statement in the Lab’s modest space with an almost complete working kitchen. Erin Barclay’s lights add some visual punch, but the offstage illumination fails to identify the time of day. Running time: 1:45 (no intermission)
THE POINT: Although this play skims the surface of its central crisis of faith, this excellent ensemble makes the characters appealing with superb skill and wonderful warmth.
(4.5 / 5)
A TheatreLAB production at The Basement thru 2/18
LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)