BWW Reviews: DOG EXPLOSION Marks Terrific Beginning to the NCT Season
It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but it wasn't until the end of last month - after living here for more than eight years - that I discovered the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). But, as the cliche goes, better late than never and, though belated, it was a lovely discovery.
As their website - http://www.unlv.edu/nct -tells us, "The NCT is the professional theater training program of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. We are committed to bringing to Las Vegas the highest quality theatre by featuring professional artists and advanced students recruited from around the country. Our mission is to entertain, but also to provoke and inspire. We are proud to be a part of Southern Nevada and UNLV, and we believe our region has a cultural destiny. This is our home."
The play I had the joy of seeing was "Dog Explosion" by Sean Clark. An associate professor in the UNLV Department of Film, Clark is the Lorraine Hansberry Award-winning screenwriter-playwright who created and directs the university's graduate screenwriting program. The director was Francisco Menendez, professor and chair of the UNLV Film Department.
"Dog Explosion" is the tale of the McCall family who lives near Colombia, MO. Sister Naomi (Amber Bonasso) is a take-charge kind of gal with little patience for rural life. Charlotte (Jasmine Mathews) is the other sister. She is fervently born-again and much less cynical than Naomi. Brother Matt (Jesse Bourque) is an all-around nice guy, eager to please and easily buffaoled by Naomi's whims. When the play opens, Mama McCall (Sandy Handley) has died, apparently frightened to death by the explosion of dynamite that Matt has put in their dog's mouth (hence, the title).
These are all simple, rural people just trying to get by. The dialogue is instantly revelatory of the various characters. (And, by the way Matt eats an astoundingly prodigious amount of powdered doughnuts.)
The excellent performances allow us to know and empathize with each character and there is never, ever a dull moment,.
In short, "Dog Explosion" at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre was fun and I look forward to seeing more of the actors, the playwright, director and the theatre group as a whole.
Check their website for the schedule.
Photo Credit: "Dog Explosion:" From left, Amber Bonasso, Jesse Bourque, Amber Mathews. Photo: Don Cadette, courtesy NCT