BWW Review: OTHER DESERT CITIES at Cherry Creak Theatre
We don't always get to choose our family. Often, there are at least a couple black sheep in every family. But what happens when everyone is the black sheep? Such a tale is spun in Cherry Creek Theatre's production of Other Desert Cities. The show portrays a family where the parents are die-hard ambassadors of the GOP, their liberal children, and the mother's recovering sister. Although not a comedy, the dynamic between them all is certainly something we all can relate with. As they come home for Christmas, Brooke, the daughter, brings with her the manuscript for a new book she is writing about her upbringing - although not every family member is eager for her to publish.
Under the direction of Sheila Ivy Traister, Other Desert Cities is a deep, clever, and thought provoking production. The set design only added to the overall production quality with a detailed, timely setting. Cherry Creek has a history of using this small, intimate space incredibly well. I'll admit, however, some of the direction and blocking were a bit questionable. At various times, and each more than once, every cast member would turn away from the conversation as if to offer dramatic effect, but it does the exact opposite by breaking the connection between actors. It also happened way too often.
With such a small cast, all five performers are on full display, leaving little room for error. Each of them offers a strong, comfortable performance, living up to the task at hand. The tactics and decisions they made, especially from Lilia Vassileva as Brooke were interesting and almost tangible. Joined by Vassileva are Abby Apple Boes as Polly, Pamela Clifton as Silda, Chas Lederer as Trip, and Michael McNeill as Lyman.
A rather dark dramedy, Other Desert Cities is different from other theatrical productions in that you don't leave happy - you leave with unanswered questions and seeking resolution, just like our protagonist.