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Review: THE THIN PLACE at Dobama

Review: THE THIN PLACE at Dobama

Dobama's THE THIN PLACE, A pseudo intellectual play that confuses rather than clarifies

Out-of-town published comments about THE THIN PLACE, now on stage at Dobama, include: "a Horror Drama that You Think You'll Forget, Then Won't." "It's a story about storytelling that defies your ability to tell a story about it." And, it's a twisty tale that throws you off the scent and doubles back behind you."

Other comments about the play states that it is a "sort of elusive, atmospheric piece." And, "it bristles with disquieting suggestion, probing the most timeless questions about reality, the impressionability of the mind, and the omnipresence of death as we float through life. Ever gifted at taking the pulse of the world around him, Hnath matches these universals with a timely resonance, distilling collective feelings of national chaos-and our political and spiritual vulnerabilities therein-to a chillingly personal scale." Sound like double-talk? It, like the play, is!

Exiting the theatre, the most common comment heard was, "What was that all about?" "Did I miss what the author was trying to say?"

Yes, the touted Lucas Hnath's THE THIN PLACE seems to avoid the purpose of a play--that of having a purpose.

Guess I'm still living in the modern era of theatre, the Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neil, William Inge, Tennessee Williams times, when a play had a clear story to tell and left a moral, or a lesson, or a challenge to accomplish. This play is definitely not part of that era.

"THE THIN PLACE is the story of two women, Hilda and Linda. Linda communicates, professionally, with the dead, who are still here, just in a different part of here, in the "thin place." She can make those who believe that they hear their departed, offering the remaining soul peace and closure and meaning. Hilda, a keen listener and observer who's grappling with loss, takes a great interest in Linda's abilities. She befriends the veteran medium, seeking answers that lie across the fragile boundary between our world and the other one."

The Dobama production, under the direction of Colin Anderson, is effectively staged.

That is, if you can avoid the problems that the powers that be have created by imposing a stage area in which there is probably no good seat. The long narrow performing area makes it often impossible to hear, or in some cases see the action. This is especially true when the performers are extreme stage right or left. (But, that is for another column, this one if about the other misguided issue, THE THIN PLACE. Wait, that could be that name for the performance space. Woops, I digress.)

The cast is strong.

As expected, multi-Cleveland Critics Circle and BroadwayWorld best actress award winner, Derdriu Ring, is dynamic as Linda, the skilled con-artist, who has learned the art of giving people what they want, a taste of the unreal, that meets their self-centered needs.

Kelly Strand creates a Hilda whose thin voice and halting language appears to be very needy, but may, in fact, be a bigger con-artist than Linda.

Anjanette Hall's Sylvia is a wealthy young woman, who uses the world and its people as her play things.

Jerry (James Rankin) seems to have no rhyme or reason to be included in the cast. One can only wonder why the author included the character. But, again, Hnath's motives are often unclear.

Capsule judgment: THE THIN PLACE is a disappointing script that gets a better-than- deserved production at Dobama. If you are a true theater- buff and like trying to figure out if an author has an intent and purpose, while observing good performances, this may be a show for you.

THE THIN PLACE runs through October 30, 2023 at Dobama. For tickets call 216-932-3396 or go to:®id=58&

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From This Author - Roy Berko

Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in... (read more about this author)

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