BWW Reviews: PHOENIX Rises Triumphantly in the Hands of Duke City Rep


PHOENIX, which opened on May 10th at the Filling Station, is not your standard romantic comedy. After a chance meeting, that ends with a one night stand, Sue and Bruce part company - she has to go out of town on business.

Four weeks later, they get together again, this time at Sue’s request. She tells Bruce that she really likes him and had a great time with him, but doesn’t want to see him again. She then adds, almost as an afterthought, that he was wrong to believe that he couldn’t have kids, because she’s pregnant.

This dramatic development appears to impact Bruce far more than Sue. She has already chosen the clinic and set an appointment for the abortion. He’s more concerned with the big picture. Whether they like it or not, this is going to impact their lives in significant ways.

Bruce insists on driving to Phoenix, to be with her at the clinic. But when he arrives the following week, after a three-day drive, a shouting match ensues and Sue throws him out. Is this the end of their brief, but intense, relationship? Or will it rise, like Phoenix, from the ashes?

Amelia Ampuero and Frank Taylor Green are outstanding in their portrayals of Sue and Bruce. The tension and chemistry between them is consistently real and, although it deals with some serious issues, the play, by NY playwright Scott Organ, is extremely funny. Organ’s quick-paced, witty dialogue always appears true to character and is deftly delivered by the two principals.

They - and director Katie Becker - get extra hurrahs for creating a world of their own within the confines of a very small theater, where the ‘stage’ is simply a part of the floor. And kudos, too, to scene designer, Charles Murdock Lucas, who devised original and imaginative ways of using just four, large wooden boxes, to create a background for scenes as varied as a coffee shop and an abortion clinic waiting room.

This is the last production in Duke City Repertory Theatre’s second season. The professional, core company, draws talent from around the country (Katie Becker is based in Chicago) and they clearly operate to a very high standard. I look forward to their next season.

PHOENIX runs through May 20th. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss it!

Photo courtesy of Duke City Rep. (

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