Reviews & Features

Lost My Head: Standup & Stories ★★★1/2

Eyes Up Here Comedy at Raleigh Little Theatre

Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre

RALEIGH, NC

October 6


by Dustin K. Britt

October 14, 2018


RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)


An 11:00 PM stand up show is not unheard of in the comedy world, particularly if you hang around for the headliner. But a the typical theatergoer is going to need a Coke and a few stretches before settling in. If the crowd just experienced something as epic as Raleigh Little Theatre’s 2.5-hour (but worth every second) play, The Revolutionists, and decide to hang around for the post-show laughs, it’s a marathon evening. 


And for the most part, this hour-or-so storytelling lineup of intriguing and brave women proved worth a small bedtime delay. And a paying, ticketed crowd will usually pull supportive, like-minded folks--lots of friends and family--so there are no noisy bar patrons or hecklers with whom to contend.


Eyes Up Here Comedy, founded by Erin Terry in 2015, is here to amplify (quite literally) the voices of North Carolina’s female-identifying comics and storytellers--an artistic space notoriously occupied by dudes, guys, and bros. With ubertools like Louis C.K. slithering back onto the stage after years of sexual harassment against women, it is imperative that women hold onto the microphone and never hand it over.


Like musicians, comics need a public platform to explore their craft. Opportunities to screw up, to bomb, to kill, to succeed, to play to 2 old drunks and 500-person crowds are necessary for the trial-and-error development of public performance.


Terry’s showcase title, “Lost My Head” is a nod to the guillotine-themed The Revolutionists, but such a wink is unnecessary and ineffective. The comics are forced to insert some detail about “losing their heads,” which is done randomly and without care, taking away from their doubtlessly careful planning. Lose the hokey title, keep the show.


This Eyes Up Here lineup, as usual, boasts a diverse array of women. Diversity in race, sexuality, background, age, body type, experience, and current level of skill. Such a varied characteristics are found in this troupe of only six women. If Erin Terry can form a diverse group with a common passion, interest, and evening availability, don’t tell me that diversity in the arts is unachievable. That's laziness.


The show took some time getting revved up--not entirely unusual for standup--but a supportive and willing audience encouraged and buoyed the artists with genuine guffaws, enthusiastic applause and woops, and--most importantly--rapt attention. It is the act of listening, something emphasized throughout The Revolutionists, that is the key to making women’s voices heard. Not just speaking into the voice, but to those willing (and yes, those unwilling) to listen. 


Whether an experienced headliner brought tears of laughter with ease (the always-delightful smartass Brett Williams, ukulele in hand) or a newcomer developed confidence as she shared her embarrassing Spanx story (a promising Elisse Thompson), the small group of spectators (about two dozen) was equally enthused. Brittany Spruill exploded with an assertive energy that brought to life even the most mundane of chicken nugget-related tales while Al-Nisa Lawson, a vibrant performer, is developing the subtle art of writing a smoother, more cohesive set of Motherhood Horror Stories. 


In the final slot, local theatre grande dame and cabaret performer Rose Higgins waxed nostalgic about her salad days at Raleigh Little Theatre--perfect subject-matter for an artist standing on the set of that evening’s very production. She reinforced many points made earlier in the evening, providing a unifying denouement for the stories of daughterhood, motherhood, and--above all else--womanhood. As she spoke, candidly and from the heart, she stripped down--both literally and figuratively--until she stood before us vulnerable, unafraid, and proud of her life, her craft, and her body. This ginger warrior, now clad only in a silky, black negligee, could be a billboard image for Strong Women. 


The next step is taking such a program out of the late night underground and into the light where the public can access it (after a matinee?). Raleigh Little Theatre should continue provide a space for women’s stories, whether the storytellers are bewigged and bejeweled beneath colored lights or simply mic-in-hand, ukulele in tow, baring all. 


Photo courtesy of Eyes Up Here Comedy.

(L to R): Al-Nisa Lawson, Brittany Spruill, Elisse Thompson, Brett Williams, Rose Higgins.

In Rehearsal: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

RALEIGH LITTLE THEATRE

by Dustin K. Britt
October 13, 2018


In London, in the fall of 1939, Operation Pied Piper was put into effect. The evacuation plan endeavored to protect English citizens--primarily children--from continual air raids. Evacuations continued and millions were relocated from London to other parts of the United Kingdom, far from the German bombs. 


Meanwhile in a parallel universe--a fictional London--four young siblings, the Pevensies, were relocated to the countryside home of an old professor for safekeeping. To dull the mind-numbing boredom, adventure was sought and, dare I say, discovered. 


And in an even farther universe, a land called Narnia, a White Witch called Jadis continues her tyrannical, century-long reign of the land, marked by a ruinous deep winter. But Aslan the Lion, rightful King of Narnia, is on the move to save the mythical creatures of his kingdom.


It is at the junction of this multiverse that author and Christian theologian C.S. Lewis’s magnum opus The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe begins. The 1950 novel, the first in a series of seven, is arguably one of the great works of English literature; one that has enjoyed innumerable adaptations in every possible medium, one of which is a 1989 stage adaptation by Tony-nominated playwright Joseph Robinette. 


It is this text that Patrick Torres, artistic director of Raleigh Little Theatre, has chosen as the first presentation of their 2018-2019 Family Series. 


In a very real Raleigh, the curtain rises and the winter winds blow on Friday, October 19, so final rehearsals are in full swing. We spent some time with the creative team and performers--both young and young-at-heart--to see how this magical production is coming to life.


Patrick Torres, director

After my parents put my older brother and me to bed, he would read me books as we fell asleep: some of my most treasured memories of him. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was one of those books. I would ask him if he thought we could visit Narnia someday. 


Heather J. Strickland, actor (White Witch)

I can still visualize the old boxed set that my my brother and I read as kids. These stories were staples of my childhood--right up there with The Baby-Sitters Club and The NeverEnding Story.


Miles Wiedmann, actor (Edmund Pevensie) -- 8th Grader

When I auditioned, it had been a while since I’d read the book. When I got a callback I watched the movie (it was all I had time for). But when I got the part, I reread the book to get a better sense of the characters.


Tara Nicole Williams, fight choreographer

I was introduced to the books quite young, during a time when my family was experiencing a lot of changes. I read about children my age that held seats of power and were listened to and respected by adults. This made me feel stronger. Now it is even more important that young people find their inner strength and stand up for others and themselves.


Justin Scranton, actor (Aslan)

These books have been a wardrobe into fantasy and magic for both me and my kids. I read them as a child and then read them to my three children, two of whom are in this production with me.


Seamus Scranton, actor (Witch's Army, Wood Nymph) - 7th grader

This is a great opportunity--to be with family in my first show at Raleigh Little Theatre.


Maryjayne Scranton, actor (Witch's Army, Wood Nymph) - 4th grader

It’s nice having your family there to support you. You can get help when you are struggling. Because they know you, you don’t even have to ask. 


Miles Wiedmann

The relationship between the four Pevensie actors builds with each rehearsal and now we feel like family even outside the play. I also love hanging out with the wood nymphs---they always put in so much effort and really bring the show together.


Heather J. Strickland

The connection adults have with young actors on stage is raw, honest, and very in the moment. Christopher Jordan, who plays my Dwart assistant, has the Witch’s back no matter what. That is true--in both directions--of the real-life friendship we are developing offstage.


Christopher Jordan, actor (Dwarf) -- 3rd Grader

My job is to serve the Queen, protect her, and to be by her side. Heather [Strickland] is not scary in real life at all. She is very nice and kind.


Miles Wiedmann

Heather comes at me with everything she has. I try to meet that intensity and energy and we just build on each other, keeping the stakes high. Working with her, I’ve learned about putting energy into your voice to project and create stage presence. She always does that really well.


Heather J. Strickland

The White Witch enters every space with an energy that fills the entire room (and everyone in it) with a horrible chill. That physicality connects to her voice and breath: a powerful boom that takes over. The Standard British accent is very helpful because of the hard consonants. I am using the sharpness of the language to further harm my enemies. 


Jessica Jordan, actor (Witch’s Army, Wood Nymph) -- 5th Grader

The White Witch is in charge of our army. She’s commanding and powerful. We are under her spell, so we just do what she says.


Justin Scranton

My fight scene with Heather is my first stage battle and it is so much fun. She is really amazing to work with because of her experience and professionalism. Aslan and the White Witch have an epic conflict, but Justin and Heather work together really well.


Aura Pugeda, actor (Lucy Pevensie) - 5th Grader

In rehearsals with Tumnus [played by Gus Allen], we are working mostly on the relationship between the two and how we're supposed to feel. Mainly Lucy's fear and wonder and Tumnus's guilt and happiness.

 

Miles Wiedmann

Patrick [Torres] works with the young ones just like he does with everyone: very professional but still extremely kind and understanding.


Tara Nicole Williams

Heather [Strickland] is also an expert fight choreographer and director. I have trained under her in many productions and it certainly feels strange to have our roles reversed.


Heather J. Strickland

Tara and I have choreographed each other, co-created fights, and dismantled gender stereotypes in the combat world together. The mutual trust we have makes the work easy, no matter who is acting and who is choreographing.


Seamus Scranton

We were taught the exact fighting moves--like choreography. We are wearing masks, capes, chainmail and helmets. Tara is optimistic and great to work with.


Miles Wiedmann

I’ve never done anything like these fights before. The battle is intense but safe. I get to have a small brotherly fight with Jacob [Peter] which is really cool because it’s so different from the big battle: it’s real-time ‘hand to hand’ combat.


Christopher Jordan

I do some very violent moves!


Jacob Sen, actor (Peter Pevensie) -- 11th Grader

Working the fights has been a longer process than I anticipated. It takes a lot of work to produce even a few seconds of fight choreography. I think by the time opening night comes along, we are going to have something we are very proud of. 


Jessica Jordan

Learning how to hold our weapons with Tara was really cool. In the fight scene with Peter we learned how to fall backward without hurting ourselves.

 

Tara Nicole Williams

Young teens in particular are still finding that connection between brain and body so it is important to build safe, manageable and achievable choreography for them. 


Patrick Torres

The designers and I were interested the backdrop of World War II, since it’s where the children are coming from. That is why so much of our costuming looks militaristic and the set is is so sparse. Our Scenic Designer, Miyuki Su, alters the audience’s experience during the show, which is so important when creating a world that has lived in the imaginations of millions of readers around the world.


Tara Nicole Williams

For this story, we stay mainly within European weaponry: swords and shields, knives and daggers, bows and arrows. Patrick felt it was incredibly important that Aslan's followers and the Witch’s followers use different kinds of weapons, even down to the material used to make them.


Maryjayne Scranton

We use metal weapons--you have to be very careful with them, though. I have learned a lot about the proper way to fall and how to avoid making contact between two weapons.


Patrick Torres

Jenny Mitchell, the Costume Designer, and I wanted the costumes to suggest the creatures, but the actors must manipulate their bodies to become animals, contributing to the theatricality of the production.


Justin Scranton

I play Aslan as a man with a Lion's soul. But not a tame one; he is loving but ferocious. My portrayal is mainly human, but I am adding more Lion all the time. I watched a lot of videos of Lions roaring and pacing and try to mimic them. The voice is deep and powerful. I think of it like Jedi master Qui-Gin Jinn. With the accent, it has taken a lot of work to get the voice where I want it.


Tara Nicole Williams

It was important, especially for a character like Fenris Ulf, that the animal be part of the actors’ physicality. I pulled from the hunting style of wolves to inform how Fenris would attack. A lot of the actors came in with great ideas so much of it was building on top of their work.


Jacob Sen

There is definitely a change in Peter after his fight with Fenris Ulf [Devon Ingham], which is something I am trying to capture: this coming of age moment. I want the audience to be able to follow his transition from a boy teasing his little brother to leader of the forces of Aslan. Learning a British dialect has been a challenge and something quite different. 


Miles Wiedmann

Edmund is such an amazing role because it’s not immediately obvious to the audience whose side he’s going to be on. I have to make sure the audience can see everything thought and emotion, even when I’m not saying anything.


Maryjayne Scranton

Strong female characters are important in this story. When I read the book for the first time years ago it made me feel important. 


Aura Pugeda

Lucy is a very curious girl. She's always up for adventure. I hope girls who come to the play remember to always be brave, be adventurous and daring. Don't let anything or anyone at all stop you from whatever adventure or dream you want to pursue.


Seamus Scranton

Having girls in lead roles creates a balance. This story wouldn’t be the same without that. But our ensemble characters have no gender. It is whatever you make it out to be.


Tara Nicole Williams

Since the play heavily favors traditional gender roles for Susan and Lucy, I wanted to make sure that Taylor [Gantt] and Aura [Pugeda] had important moments in the battle.


Aura Pugeda

I'm not scripted for any fights, but I do heal the others. A challenge is how we're going to make it all look real.

 

Jacob Sen

C.S. Lewis tries to show everyone has an important role to play, whether male of female. While Lucy may not be the one slaying the enemy on the battlefield; her compassion and heart is the very reason that the four of them don’t immediately leave Narnia. Thanks to her, they end up saving it. 


Patrick Torres

I hope Narnia fans are reminded of the story’s power and reconnect to it. I hope those who have never read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe get excited by the story and pick the book up to spend more time in Lewis’s world. I hope this show is a reminder that there is a great need for courage, forgiveness, sacrifice, and community in any fight for justice.

About the Show

Raleigh Little Theatre

Cantey V. Sutton Theatre

301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607

October 18 - 28, 2018


75 minutes / No intermission.


SCHEDULE

  • Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30pm
  • Saturdays at 1:00pm & 5:00pm
  • Sundays at 1:00pm & 5:00pm

SPECIAL EVENTS

  • Post-Show Discussion on October 20th with Rev. Sharon Taylor.
  • Milk & Cookies night on October 25th.
  • The Sunday, October 28 performance at 5pm will be audio described.
  • Sensory-Friendly Encore Performance on November 3rd.*

TICKETS

  • Adults: $18
  • Children (12 and under): $12

THE AUTHORS

Dramatized by Joseph Robinette
Story by C.S. Lewis


THE CAST

ASLAN: Justin Scranton

WHITE WITCH: Heather J. Strickland

LUCY: Aura Pugeda

EDMUND: Miles Wiedmann

SUSAN: Taylor Gantt

PETER: Jacob Sen

MR. BEAVER: Matthew Hurley

MRS. BEAVER: Freya Helmer-Sindemark

UNICORN: Zoe Wright

CENTAUR: Christopher McBennett

TUMNUS: Gus Allen

FENRIS ULF: Devon Ingham

DWARF: Christopher Jordan

FATHER CHRISTMAS: Wayne Burtoft

ELF/WHITE STAG: Addison Wells

WITCH'S ARMY & WOOD NYMPHS: 

Sam Davis

Sara Frantz

Jessica Jordan 

Maryjayne Scranton

Seamus Scranton 

Noah Zimmermann


THE CREATIVE TEAM

Director: Patrick Torres

Scenic Designer: Miyuki Su

Costume Designer: Jenny Mitchell

Lighting Designer: Darby Madewell

Sound Designer: Jon Maruca


ACCESSIBILITY

  • All performances are wheelchair accessible.
  • Assistive listening devices are available for all performances.
  • Audio description for those with visual disabilities (October 25 at 5:00 PM)

*Sensory-friendly performances are designed especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities, or other disabilities.
Sensory-friendly seating is general admission allowing individuals extra space if needed.

Click here for more details and pre-visit materials.

To provide a supportive and welcoming environment for children and families, sensory-friendly performances include:

  • Reduction of loud or jarring sounds
  • Reductions in flashing or strobe lights
  • Modification of the house lights during the performance
  • Accommodated house rules: audience members are free to talk or move during the show
  • Extra staff and volunteer support.
  • Designated “Take a Break Space”

Coming Soon: Frankenstein from NT Live

Live Broadcast (Encore) from the London's National Theatre

by Dustin K. Britt

October 11, 2018


Monday, October 22 at 7:00 PM and

Monday, October 29 at 7:00 PM


Fifty-five years ago this month, Peter O’Toole stepped onto the stage of London’s National Theatre as Hamlet. The National stages more than twenty new productions every year, playing 1,000 performances to over 600,000 London theatregoers.


For most in North America, traversing the pond to the U.K. for theatre is not a realistic option--no matter how exciting a new National Theatre production might be. Luckily, inspired by the Metropolitan Opera’s live broadcast initiative, the National began broadcasting many of their shows live to cinemas across Europe and North America under the Fathom Events banner.


Most U.S./Canada broadcasts are almost live (time zone constraints make delays necessary), but shows are always taped live, and edited in real-time. Encore broadcasts can occur weeks to years later for popular productions. Since February 2017, NT Live had reached more than 6.5 million viewers around the globe. Between 8 and 12 of their annual productions will reach cinema audiences. 


In March 2011 NT Live broadcast Nick Dear’s daring adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein for the world, followed by years of encore screenings. A handful of triangle cinemas are broadcasting the 2018 encores later this October, just in time to add this to your Halloween viewing list.


Why a double showing? This production makes use of a growing trend in popular theatre casting for productions with two major leads: The Role Switch. 


Benedict Cumberbatch will play the Creature on October 22 and Dr. Victor Frankenstein on the 29th.


Jonny Lee Miller will play Dr. Victor Frankenstein on October 22 and the Creature on the 29th.


The two roles are so juicy that any actor would love to tackle both and this duo shared multiple awards for their performances. It also doesn’t hurt the National Theatre to sell you two tickets. Both actors are best known for performances of Sherlock Holmes: Cumberbatch on Sherlock and Miller on Elementary. In addition to those fanbases, lovers of Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange and The Hobbit are likely to line up for Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller will draw fans of Dexter, Emma, and Eli Stone


The play’s director is also noteworthy: this terrifying adaptation is directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle, known for his fast-paced and frenetic style (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, and 127 Hours). The industrial musical score--provided by Welsh electronic duo Underworld--has been praised as a thrilling and integral element, as has Bruno Poet’s award-winning filament light bulb installation.


The National Theatre still has no immediate plans to make tapings available for home viewing. While the embargo limits the audience reach, the exclusivity of the screenings mimics the communal, formal, and unpredictable experience of attending the theatre. 

The 2 hour, 20 minute play, supported by behind-the-scenes and interview footage (so get there early), is definitely recommended for an adult audience. The National says to treat this as you would an R-rated film.


Chatham Life and Style performing arts editor Dustin K. Britt will attend the October 22 screening at the Silverspot Cinema in Chapel Hill, NC to enjoy their in-seat dining and review the screening. Come join Dustin and say hi!! 


https://www.silverspot.net


http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlin4-frankenstein


Triangle Showtimes:


Monday, October 22 at 7:00 PM

Cumberbatch as The Creature

Miller as Victor Frankenstein 


  • Silverspot Cinema - Chapel Hill, NC
  • Regal Crossroads Stadium 20 - Cary, NC
  • Regal Briar Creek Stadium 14 - Raleigh, NC
  • Regal North Hills Stadium 14 - Raleigh, NC


Monday, October 29 at 7:00 PM 

Miller as The Creature

Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein


  • Regal Crossroads Stadium 20 - Cary, NC
  • Regal Briar Creek Stadium 14 - Raleigh, NC
  • Regal North Hills Stadium 14 - Raleigh, NC

The Revolutionists ★★★★★

Raleigh Little Theatre

Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre

RALEIGH, NC

September 27 - October 14


by Dustin K. Britt

October 8, 2018


RATING: 5 stars (out of 5)


In The Revolutionists, playwright Lauren Gunderson has packed four sturdy muskets with red hot bullets of rage and handed them, one by one, to each of a quartet of revolutionaries. These rebels are French. These rebels are women. And these rebels are really fucking over it. Bang bang. 


A satirist, an assassin, a political prisoner, and a Haitian revolutionary stand before us, submitting to the historical record personal narratives of oppression, of triumph, and--most importantly--of how they pushed back.  With minds and wits as sharp as guillotine blades, these four combatants in period garb (designed with terrific flare by Vicki Olson), divulge and reenact their sacrifices while commenting on the play itself and worrying over how their history will be written. If at all. And by whom.


Gunderson’s 2015 tragicomic satire asks far more questions than it could ever answer, demanding that the audience lean forward and listen up. Joncie Sarratt’s surreal set, graced by Chelsey Winstead’s props, drops us into the warmth and comfort of an 18th century French estate while the revolution’s infamous instrument of execution stands menacingly nearby, watching and waiting. Kaitlin Gill Rider’s sharp lighting design transforms the static set into an ever-changing dreamscape while John Maruca’s precise and overwhelming sound design makes director Amy White’s perfectly jarring transitions all the more ghostly. 


Under White’s daring direction, an awe-inspiring ensemble of women pick up the sardonic, metatheatrical text and slap you right in the face with it. An audacious Lu Meeks ably channels both the mania and trepidation in the role of playwright and activist Olympe de Gouges.


A brutally honest Tiffany Lewis is the play’s most sympathetic rebel: fictional, ferocious Haitian femme de revolucion Marianne Angelle. Her bold interactions underline the manner in which modern feminism co-opts or excludes the voices of women of color. 


An uninhibited Liz Webb is the play’s darkest and most playful militant, the infamous radical Charlotte Corday, whose bathtime slaying of journalist Jean-Paul Marat is the stuff of legends. This is the most complex and shocking performance I have seen from Webb thus far.

 

A committed Melanie Simmons is a seemingly vacuous Marie Antoinette, who eventually reveals herself to be an indomitable mutineer, though Gunderson does not overlook the queen’s flaws. Much of Gunderson’s incisive observations come from this character’s mouth.


Amid the capitalist tyranny of 2018 America, the bits of anti-aristocracy satire are just too damn true to be funny, but the play’s discourse on gender and race pack a wallop. In turn, each traumatized, angry, determined woman stands before a guillotine and bears witness. Perhaps the words of her testimony will be carved into the marble columns that support our sacred political and educational institutions. 


But what if her truths are not so self-evident? Can a woman in the 18th century truly speak to a 21st century audience? Women have never controlled the narrative, much less women sentenced to death by their own government. These womens’ statements are not being broadcast live across the nation for all to see, hear, analyze, and judge. There is no senate committee to submit to. Each of these characters’ testimonies might fall from her lips and onto the dusty boards of the gallows; forgotten if not entirely unheard. And if somehow her words make it onto some small piece parchment? A man holds the pen that contains the ink of a woman’s life story.


Gunderson, via the character Olympe, says The Revolutionists is about grace and power in the face of terror. Considering the recent misogynistic political offenses against humanity, decency, and integrity, this play’s relevance cannot be understated. Its content is impossibly up-to-the-minute. One can imagine Gunderson backstage, frantically pounding out the play on a typewriter in real time, handing off each page to the actors as the world becomes ready to hear these long-awaited words. 


Photo by Gus Samarco.

Curve of Departure ★★★★1/2

Bulldog Ensemble Theater

Durham Fruit & Produce Company

DURHAM, NC

September 27 - October 14


by Dustin K. Britt

October 6, 2018


RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5)


Two premieres are exploding at The Fruit right now: the brand-new Bulldog Ensemble Theatre and its inaugural production, the Triangle’s first view of Rachel Bonds' 2016 play Curve of Departure.


Departure in the sense of an exit, yes. A journey forward. But in the sciences, the departure curve measures how much environmental factors cause ideal behavior to veer off course. And in only 80 minutes, Bond’s quartet of damaged but determined travelers are pushed off course by any number of life’s disruptions. Each is soon departing for a destination unknown and has about 12 hours in a crowded hotel room to prepare their emotional baggage for the journey.


Director Thaddaeus Edwards does great honor to Bonds’s text, breathing tremendous life into a brief, compact, and seemingly straightforward play. He carefully navigates the emotional ebb and flow of the piece, never letting his audience off the rapidly sharpening hook. Obviously an actors’ director, Edwards has kindled some powerful flames from the small company. There are only a handful of moments when some “acting” is easily detectable.

 

An unwavering Phyllis Morrison holds the play--and its cast--together as the devoted Linda while John Murphy delivers one of the the year’s most explosive, nuanced, and penetrating performances in the Triangle as Linda’s rapidly declining father-in-law Rudy. Marcus Zollicoffer is sturdy but sensitive as Linda’s unsettled son Felix. As much as Felix has a hard shell with a soft underbelly, his boyfriend Jackson is the reverse. A delicate Luar Mercado Lopez shows an outwardly brittle young man whose inward courage gradually emerges. 


Michelle Gonzalez-Green’s hotel room set, built by Jonathan Varillas, is simple but believable, while Lakeisha Coffey’s carefully-considered costumes hint at characters’ personalities. Christa Giammattei presents a handful of subtle and intriguing sound effects, aided--as many shows at The Fruit are--by passing Durham trains. Coincidentally, this actually support the play’s theme of departing from what is expected.


Lighting designer Steve Tell provides a restorative and believable sunrise, but some unlit patches in the hotel room occasionally leave our actors in the dark. All production elements fuse together under Cheryl Edson’s stage management.


Bonds’s catharsis is not quite impacting enough, leaving a slightly frayed edge at the end of a taut rope, but the play leaves a satisfyingly bittersweet taste in the mouth.


Bulldog’s first production comes with high community interest and even higher theatrical expectations. With a stellar first showing and a varied and intriguing season selection, Bulldog Ensemble Theater has certainly proven itself highly worthy of our continued patronage.  


Photo by Tim Walter.

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Meet the Managing Editor

Photograph of editor Dustin K. Britt. Smiling at the camera with glasses and short blond hair.

Dustin K. Britt

Dustin K. Britt, a North Carolina native, is a performer, theatre instructor and freelance writer. He has worked in the theatre for more than 20 years and holds a Master of Arts in Education from East Carolina University. Dustin covers concerts, dance, comedy, and theatre in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Pittsboro, and Apex. His writing has appeared in IndyWeek, Carolina Parent Magazine, Pedal Fuzz, and Triangle Arts & Entertainment.  You can find him on Twitter or Instagram @dkbritt85

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