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