BWW Review: A Shakespearean Travesty You Must See at Dreamhouse Theatre
The ROMEO AND JULIET set is amateurish at best, the faux brick walls have crooked lines, not altogether finished, and not entirely steady - actually on the verge of falling over, a dog keeps barking, and several of the actors don't know their lines.
Instead of making for an awful performance, it endears you to the talented cast successfully pulling off not being a talented cast in FAITH COUNTY II: AN EVENING OF CULTURE - ROMEO AND JULIET SORT OF written by Arkansas playwright Mark LanDon Smith.
Though the play is subtitled AN EVENING OF CULTURE, this play within a play set in present-day Mineola, Arkansas, is the antithesis of culture. It's truly an evening of laugh out loud, bruise-your-companion's-knee-from-hitting-it-so-hard hilarity at Dreamhouse Theatre, running through February 26. The actors had to hold for laughter many, many times during the performance.
In FAITH COUNTY II, the local Council for Cultural Recognition is staging a production of "Romeo and Juliet." The menagerie perfectly destroys the literary masterpiece. From mispronounced words and adlibbed lines to an addition of Tinkerbell, The Bard would turn over in his grave with the liberties the Mineola cast takes with his famous work.
Directed by Bryan D'Onofrio (who also plays DelBert Fink, the hammer-loving actor/set builder (cough cough), Bryan's Delbert and FAITH COUNTY II is very, very funny. For anyone who has ever been on stage or behind the scenes, rather than seated in the audience, the play captures the reality of what happens when 'everything that can possibly go wrong on opening night' does. The audience is even let in on behind-the-scenes capers as some of funniest scenes happen in sound effects only.
Inept Council actors are still trying to memorize their lines. One actor forgot his costume at home and another thinks it is best to change the play 20 minutes before the curtains open. Doors don't open, actors miss their cues, props are missing, and light go on and off at inappropriate times.
The perfection in this ridiculousness comes from this stellar eight-member cast. These hard-working actors nailed their roles. You couldn't ask for better comedic timing. Typically, there is one performer that steals the spotlight. Yet, no matter the size of the role, picking a favorite out of this ensemble would be like asking a parent of multiples to pick their favorite child. It can't be done.
ElizaBeth Russell superbly plays the unexpectedly unrattled director Violet Farkle, who by the end the play probably hates her name after hearing everyone screech it repeated throughout the production.
Brianna Filippelli plays Mildred Carson starring as Juliet. Despite being a Diva, the character of Mildred appears to be one of the saner actors in the show. Whether she's loudly whispering lines to a forgetful Romeo or repeatedly stabbing herself in a death scene that rivals Paul Reuben's in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Brianna is naturally funny.
As Bubba Bedford, playfully dubbed Hurricane Bubba by the Dreamhouse cast, Trevor Lloyd is adorable as Mildred's lovable and clumsy Romeo. Trevor appropriated described his character as being in his own world. This is proven in the famous balcony scene. His costume has to be seen to be believed.
Sarah Castro as Naomi Carson, the local beautician/Juliet's mother takes self-promotion to a whole new level when she hawks her beauty products during a pivotal scene. She even proceeds to offer to do audience makeovers during intermission. She is a delight in her struggle to be a serious Shakespearean actor.
Darci D'Onofrio as Faye McFaye, is hot for Delbert and hysterical in her over-the-top interpretation of Shakespearean speak.
Ryan Keene adds the perfect comic relief as Luther Carson, Naomi's husband and another actor. There are no words to describe his makeshift costume. The laughter that greeted it was loud and lasting.
Finally, the most levelheaded in the show is Lori Littlefield as Ruthann Barns, bit player and announcer for council affairs. She seems to be the normal in a sea of lunacy.... Until she dons a character costume for Faye's original poetry reading. Again... you must see to believe.
In theater, comedy is infectious. Laughter feeds off laughter and the audience was truly enjoying the antics of these crazy characters. This is truly a team effort and the chemistry between the Dreamhouse cast back stage and on stage was evident.
If you're looking for a performance to spark an important conversation, this is NOT it; however, if you are looking for "a planned hot mess" and 90 minutes of family-friendly silliness, FAITH COUNTY is sure to give you a good time and guaranteed to leave you in stitches.
Dreamhouse Theatre is located at 1840 Oak Grove Boulevard, Lutz, FL 33559. FAITH COUNTY II: AN EVENING OF CULTURE - ROMEO AND JULIET SORT OF runs through February 26 with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm. General admission tickets are $23 and can be purchased online at www.dreamhousetheatre.com.