Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Mark Woodland directs Reverse Psychology, a possibly absurdist comedy about a young man waiting for a job interview and the interview itself. So much of the interaction between Steve Bikfalvy as Charles the interviewer and Ren Pearson as Michael the job seeker does not reflect the reality of today's workplace that I had difficulty experiencing it, yet it never rose to true theater of the absurd levels. Also featured are Samantha Centerbar as Sara and Alana Opie as Susan. The performers were all individually good but their performances never congeal into a cohesive whole, possibly due to the script.
Weekly Visit is about a son's dutiful visit to his mother and the guilt she lays on him. Lots of cliches litter the stage, such as the difficult relationship between mother and daughter-in-law, but performed by the ever delightful Jenny Aldrich Walker and Starlite Room owner Tyler Yurckonis, and directed by Bob Trisolini, it doesn't matter a bit. Will somebody find or write a really good part for Ms. Walker? I would gladly travel long distances to see her really stretch her talents.
After intermission comes The Company You Keep, also directed by Mr. Trisolini. Here two mothers are competing for PTA president at exactly the same time their daughters are competing for homecoming queen. The comedy comes from the parallels between both sets of mothers and daughters. The mothers are played by Eve Caballero and Heather Forte, the daughters by Cassandra Marie Caballero and Vanessa Russo. Bob Nosal and Bob Trisolini, known around town as "The Bobs," are the voices of announcers.
The final piece, Cabin Pressure, is directed by Mark Woodland. Three passengers in the same row of an airplane are tightly jammed together. A young woman holds the window seat, a gentleman is in the middle, and an older woman has the aisle seat. The older woman begins a phone call to her daughter; anger softens to a loving tone. The other woman makes a call to her romantic partner at home. They are still in the thralls of early passion and they are going to have a hard time being apart. The call turns into something just short of phone sex. The man in the middle has a physical reaction and attempts to do something regarding his reaction but can not muster all the resources necessary to do so. The physical comedy around the man's problem and attempt to rectify it is quite possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The audience was right there with him, shrieks of laughter from all. The cast consists of Jenny Aldrich Walker, Samantha Centerbar, and Daniel Greene.
I am really pleased to report that Starlite Players continues to do what they do very well. They provide opportunities for some of our loved local actors and actresses to spread their wings and fly in directions they might not otherwise. Ms. Caballero and Ms. Opie are both well known leading actresses in community theater and other performers have other local credits as well. This type of comedy tests different skill sets and all rise to the challenges.
I realize that this company is operating on a shoestring, but a spray of plastic orchids used in Reverse Psychology might be considered for prop euthanasia. I will gladly supply them with a fresh supply of plastic flowers. Mind Games is one of their most consistent evenings and it ends with gales of laughter to propel the audience home. They return June 16-19 with a program entitled Skirting the Law.
While attending Mind Games I heard wonderful news that a favorite local performer has been cast in a leading role of The Lion King on tour. Our very very best wishes to Marta McKinnon.
Mind Games plays through May 22, 2016, presented by The Starlite Players at The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota, FL. For more information, visit www.starliteplayers.com.