BWW Review: THE COLD BREW COLLECTION at Texas State Univeristy

BWW Review: THE COLD BREW COLLECTION at Texas State Univeristy
Aaliyah Ward and Kate Edmonds in HER AND ME
photo by Abigail Holfort

THE COLD BREW COLLECTION is a collection of five short plays written by Payton Russell. Russell is a freshman at Texas State University, and if this collection is any indication, we can expect to see even more fantastic work from her within her time at Texas State.

The plays themselves were beautifully written, which is impressive considering that Russell is a freshman. She was able to balance the comedic elements that the majority of her pieces would lead to with the heart that was behind each and every one of her characters. On top of that, Russell's plays didn't go longer than needed - they all hit the beats that they were meant to and then would end. Lesser playwrights would keep the story going and squeeze every drop out of it, but Russell was able to tie up the stories before it ever got to that point.

My favorite of the five plays was the opening - TED'S TALK. It was a stunning monologue of a seventh grader, the titular Ted played by Parker Dial, giving a presentation to his class à la a Ted Talk. Dial did a beautiful job of giving life to the kind of kid that I went to middle school with, and you could see the distress on his face at

the realization that his speech was getting away from him no matter what he did. Russell's script did a stunning job at verbalizing the self-deprecating thoughts that kids Ted's age think all the time, and by having Ted actually say these things out loud, berating himself and his peers was heartbreaking to witness. Director Preston Straus was able to take on the script and pin point the exact moment where the script packed the most punch and just let it breathe, making it that more impactful.

Russell's collection showed off her range as a playwright. There were those moments that were comedic, while still showing the soft underbelly of the character, and moments that were unnerving.

BETTER was the fourth play in the collection and was the definition of that suspense. The play follows a family who are seemingly possessed by a malicious entity - director Reese Longshore was able to build upon the already frightening nature of the script by having Chris Frey, who was playing the father Michael, walking around behind the audience out of sight, while delivering the first third of his dialogue. Carlos Nine's lighting design, and at times lack of light itself, was able to enhance the unnerving nature of the piece. Having Frey use a flashlight as the only instrument of lighting near the end of the play was a chilling choice that was reminiscent of horror films like "The Blair Witch Project".

THE COLD BREW COLLECTION by Payton Russell was a fantastic night at the theatre and I highly encourage anyone who has the chance to come out and support this young playwright and her peers.

THE COLD BREW COLLECTION by Payton Russell is running April 5-7 at the PHS Foundation Studio Theatre (430 Moon St, San Marcos, TX 78666)

at Texas State University. Shows are at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 on Sunday.

PARKING: If you do not have a Texas State University Parking Tag, parking will be directed to the Edward Gary Parking Garage a fee based parking facility.

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From This Author Addison McKissack