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BWW Review: Great Acting Fails to Elevate HOLD ME WELL

Playwright Eva Suter has taken tropes from 70's sci-fi and plot elements from Shakespeare's Othello to create HOLD ME WELL. In her play, making it's World Premiere (outside of the UT production a few years back), Suter has crafted a dystopian tale of a desolate Central Texas inhabited solely by women after a catastrophic war has eradicated the male population and the Y chromosome. The threat of another war with an unseen and vaguely described outside force looms in the future as these five women struggle to save "the stock" which is the future of humanity.

In Othello, the tragic flaw that brings about the characters end is jealousy. In HOLD ME WELL, the tragedy is the writing. Chief among the many problems with the script is that it spends far too much time telling us what we can figure out quickly and almost no time explaining the things we can't. In a time when we are inundated with dystopian entertainment: The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Z Nation, to name but a few, comparisons are inevitable. These examples generally focus on the interpersonal relationships of the survivors as they struggle to find unity and safety. The same is true for HOLD ME WELL, however, the dialogue here is stilted and the action predictable. There are some good scenes, notably the scene where three of the survivors share a piece of chocolate and remember their youth together, more often the script doesn't offer us a deeper look into the souls of the characters.

Rudy Ramirez has made the most of the good moments in the script and has done a great job with the blocking and pacing. The acting is also very good, notably Hayley Armstrong as Des, Emily Rankin as Casey, Ellie McBride as Amelia and Taylor Flanagan as Raquel. Unfortunately, the role of Odele, played by Elizabeth Mason, was given such trite dialogue that the actress couldn't overcome the writing. Certainly not the fault of Ms. Mason. I also liked the set by Patrick Anthony and the costumes by EL Hohn.

In the end, HOLD ME WELL, doesn't really hold your attention swamped as it is by trite dialogue and the predictability of almost every key moment.

HOLD ME WELL by Eva Suter

Running time: Approximately Two Hours including intermission.

HOLD ME WELL, produced by Shrewd Productions plays The Off Shoot at the Off Center (2211-A Hidalgo Street ) Playing through August 7th, 2016. Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm., Sundays at 5 PM. Tickets $15 -$25 plus service fees via Brown Paper Tickets. Website: shrewdproductions.com


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From This Author Frank Benge