BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!

BWW-Reviews-Curious-Theatres-MAPLE-AND-VINE-Time-Warp-20010101The regional premiere of MAPLE AND VINE is playing at Curious Theatre now until February 23rd. Katha and Ryu, a modern-day couple stuck in a modern-day rut, discover a way out of the troubles they've been having-moving to a planned community perpetually located in 1955. Will going back to this not-so-simpler time be the answer to all their problems? Playwright Jordan Harrison's audacious premise takes the audience into a parallel universe that is hilarious in its attention to detail, and surprisingly seductive in its artifice. Have we made progress as a society? Is it possible to forego the values of the present for the mores of the past?

Can we say, "Let's do the time warp again!?!?". This show is a fascinating look about escaping into an alternate society that actually makes you wonder if this could really works in today's technology driven world. Filled with love, loss, racism, prejudice, vandalism, and sexuality (oh my!), this complex show was a dizzying delight to watch. You really felt for Katha and Rya and their loss in Act One, which drew you in. The 50's couple were absolutely adorable in their inserts and when Katha and Ryu said yes, the audience was all ready to go on a road trip. I loved the transformation of the set from the darkness of the modern day to the bright and colorful land of the 1950's. While you can hide from your life, you cannot escape the issues of the time. I really hate to say this - but the racism in Act Two were a little funny because in this "PC" world, we don't hear those jabs as often anymore. The twist threw me and the audience for a tail spin and gave the show a whole new light and complex perspective. It truly showed us that appearances can be deceiving in any time period, but it is the support from our friends and family that will get us through the tough times.

Karen Slack was absolutely magnetic and captivating as Katha. Her character was so well rounded starting as a distraught and aimless mother who lost her child, to the total transformation in the 1050's lifestyle which ultimately gave her the strength and inner-peace that she was looking for. Dale Li was quite good as Katha's husband, Rya. He had a humble strength about his that really drew you in. Josh Robinson as Dean, the leader of the community and perfect example of the model 1950's couple was just amazing. I loved his inner-conflict while dealing with his sexuality which gave the entire show such depth. C. Kelly Leo was simply radiant as Dean's wife Ellen. Her downward spiral and disintergration from the perfect housewife transfixed the audience. She also played the sarcastic secretary, Jenna who was over the top and hilarious. Stuart Sanks was also playing double duty as Dean's "friend", Omar and Katha's bitchy assistant, Roger. While Roger could lead his own gay parade and was so funny, Dean was dealing with his inner demons. Both characters were an acting triumph for this talented actor.

Director Chip Walton did an excellent job with this trippy show and I loved the contrast between present day and the 1950's paradise. My only critic was that the transitions in Act One were choppy. With a talented stage crew, there was no need for so many blackouts and you could have utilized the techs and alternating focuses on the stage to keep the lights up and the transitions flowing smoother. Even with this said, those issues actually solved themselves in Act Two which flowed quite smoother. Now with a back to the past concept, you knew that this show was going to be all about the set and costumes. Scenic Designer Markas Henry did a great job with both time periods. I loved the 1950's house with all of the vintage touches and the present day apartment was quite interesting with its unique details. Costume designer Kevin Brainerd did such a wonderful job with vibrant color and the gorgeous design that was the fashion in the 1950's. Lighting by Richard Devin was fabulous in their attention to detail (loved the variations on lighting) and the sound by designer Jason Ducat was also superb (I loved his choices in music).
Filled with complex characters, an amazing set, and colorful costumes, this show is a highlight in Curious Theatre's 15th season. MAPLE AND VINE is transporting audiences now until February 23rd at Curious Theatre. Curtain times are Thursday - Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets or more information, contact the Curious Theatre box office at 303.623.0524 or online at curioustheatre.org. Curious Theatre is located at 1080 Acoma Street in Denver.
PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Ensminger

BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!

BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!
Dale Li and Karen Slack

BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!
Josh Robinson and C. Kelly Leo

BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!
(L-R) Dale Li, Josh Robinson, Karen Slack, and C. Kelly Leo

BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!
Karen Slack and C. Kelly Leo

BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's MAPLE AND VINE is a Time Warp Triumph!

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Michael Mulhern Michael Mulhern has lived in Denver and been active in it's theater scene for over 10 years. He is originally from Wiesbaden, Germany and graduated with a BFA in Theater Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Currently he performs in one to two shows a year and is a proud member of the Denver Gay Men's Chorus. Some of Michael's favorite performances include - Lend Me a Tenor, Guys and Dolls, The Shadow Box, Buried Child, and Jeffrey. He is proud to represent Denver and it's growing theater community on BroadwayWorld.com!


 
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