BWW Review: WILLISTON at Detroit Repertory Theatre Is a Fresh and Relevant Play
The Midwest premiere of Williston by Adam Seidel, playing now through June 30th at Detroit Repertory Theatre, is a fresh piece of theatre that successfully shines a light on the power of greed and money in modern day America. Three leasing reps travel to Williston, North Dakota to get mineral rights to the last big piece of undeveloped land. Leasing reps negotiate with land owners on behalf of oil companies about obtaining a lease to develop the land and typically operate on commissions which are a percentage of the leasing price.
Williston was the first show I have seen at Detroit rep, and I was thoroughly impressed with not only the play itself but the caliber of talent from the actors onstage. The cast consisted of only three actors, and all three of them connected cohesively to tell a story that is relevant and fresh. The intensity of all three of the actors was top notch, so much so that I would pay a fair amount of money to see these three talents perform alongside each other again.
Harold Uriah Hogan of Southfield is powerful as Larry, the proud, blue collar, 25 year leasing rep veteran of the bunch. Larry has been in this career field for a long time and has been around the block. He is very set in his ways, hates change, but loves closing deals. He does not put up with any shenanigans and has a chip on his shoulder. Hogan's performance of Larry was believable from the minute that he stepped on stage. What stuck out to me most about Hogan's performance was the intensity and tone with which he delivered his lines throughout the show. Further, he did a great job changing his character's overall mood throughout the course of the show, as we see Larry go from a dominant and fearless leader to a helpless man due to crippling circumstances around him. Hogan stood out as the dominant force on stage in my opinion.
Kelly Pino of Hamtramck is Barb, Larry's tough partner, who has been fighting against the tide her whole life. Barb is strong-willed and independent. Pino is fiery and forceful in many situations throughout the show, proving to the audience that she will not take anybody's flack. Pino has incredible diction, and her facial expressions prove to the audience that she is not to be messed with. David Wolber of Detroit rounds out the cast as Tom, the brand new leasing rep, who is curious about all he doesn't know yet. He is nervous, yet witty, and smarter than Larry and Barb give him credit for. In the second act of the show, he becomes more confident with himself and his work ethic. His change of character is very fluid, and he shines in the second act.
Williston is directed by resident company member Casaundra Freeman of Detroit. General admission is $17 in advance and $20 for regular admission -- all seats, all performances. For tickets, fundraisers and information call or visit the Rep Box office, (313) 868-1347. Tickets can be purchased by phone using Visa or MasterCard or online at detroitreptheatre.com. There is no surcharge.
*Show information courtesy of Detroit Repertory Theatre.