BWW Review: Fine Performances Make TREVOR Must See Theatre
Using true events as source material, TREVOR by Orange is the New Black writer Nick Jones, is at once witty, hilarious and gut-wrenching. The story is about former show biz chimp Trevor (Jason Newman), a 200-pound chimpanzee, and his owner Sandra (Rebecca Robinson), who has an almost maternal attachment to him. At the core, the play is a look at misunderstood communication. Sandra thinks she knows what Trevor is thinking, but the audience is aware of how far off she actually is. Trevor is almost singularly focused on returning to his show biz existence when he worked with Morgan Fairchild (Rebecca Pearcy) in a "commercial about water bottles or possibly paper". It is this communication failure that leads to mounting tensions and the ultimately tragic ending. Consider just how frustrating it is not being able to truly communicate with the person you depend on. Yes, this happens in human relationships all the time, but when you make one of the elements in the equation an animal with violent tendencies, both the tension and the very real chance for disaster rise exponentially.
TREVOR is extremely witty, and most of the laughs center around Trevor and his obsession with his former glory days. The audience is clued in because Trevor and what he is trying to tell Sandra is completely clear to the audience. The showbiz satire in the flashbacks and dream sequences is sharp and funny, especially when Trevor is talking to the star chimp he idolizes, Oliver (Judd Farris), or to Morgan Fairchild.
Juxtaposed with the showbiz satire is the very real mess that is Sandra's life. She's fighting with her neighbor Ashley (Molly Fonseca) over Trevor's antics. He tends to take the car and go driving, you see...
Mark Pickell, who also designed the set, has done a great job here; staging the piece very naturalistically. He also has brought out the best of this top notch cast. Patrick Anthony's lighting is perfect, going from a realistic world to chimp fantasy with ease.
Jason Newman delivers a charming and subtle performance that belies the savage nature of a beast. This allows the audience to relate to Trevor as they might another human, before the stakes are raised when true animal instinct begins to show. We, as audience, feel for Trevor and at some level identify with him. Rebecca Robinson plays Sandra with the savage intensity of a mother protecting her child. It is a performance filled with incredible pain and stunning self-delusion, proving once again why Robinson is such an amazing performer.
Rebecca Pearcy is hilarious as Morgan Fairchild as is Judd Farris as Oliver. I particularly liked the many small vocal and physical touches that Farris employed. Molly Fonseca was also impressive, especially in her scene challenging Trevor as the Alpha in a terrifying moment. Rounding out the cast is Joe Reynolds as Jim, the police officer who turns a blind to Sandra and Trevor and Matt Frazier in the dual role of Morgan Fairchild's PA and Jerry, from Animal Control.
There are some quibbles here. I found the fact that the crying baby sound in Lowell Bartholomee's otherwise solid sound design took me out of the moment during the climax when the baby was on stage but was still crying off stage. I also am puzzled by the ending written by Mr. Jones. After the shattering scene that precedes, the ending has secondary characters talking about the current state of Sandra and Trevor, and seems sort of tacked on and anti-climatic. I say this in no way to take anything away from the stellar work of this company... it really is a minor quibble with how the playwright chose to wrap the play up.
In short, TREVOR is another fine darkly comedic presentation by the always excellent Capital T Theatre.
TREVOR: by Nick Jones
Running time: Approximately 2 Hours with one intermission.
TREVOR, produced by Capital T Theatre, plays Hyde Park Theatre (511 W43rd St) now thru June 19. Performances are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 pm. Reserved Seating $20. Preferred Seating $30. Reservations http://capitalt.org/wp/now-playing