"Elephant," a new play by Lewis Morrow, produced by Rising Tide Productions, and directed by Bob Linebarger opens at the Living Room Theatre in downtown Kansas City. Guaranteed to make you laugh and to make you think, this original new play is as current as the headlines from today's news. Blending the best of ensemble acting and seamlessly written dialogue, this story reveals that the "Elephant" in the living room isn't always what we expect.

Based on a real-life incident, occurring at the workplace, it explores the manner in which people go mindlessly about their day without realizing how their past influences them. "Elephant" urges the audience to explore each person's backstory and how it provides a motivational force behind how decisions are made. The comedic moments happen in part because of the absurdity of the situations making the more serious moments all the more potent.

The plot premise seems simple, what happens when a white boss asks a black subordinate to wear a chicken suit as part of an office presentation to the visiting CEO? Mixed in are a number of other sub-plots that stir the pot as conflict and chaos ensue. The characters are all vastly different, yet sympathetic, and Morrow's dialogue reinforces how individuality can easily factor into the racial divide. Morrow doesn't use the story to preach, but rather as more of a parable that leads to understanding.

Lewis Morrow (as Marcus) gives the character enough restraint so that as his inner turmoil builds the resulting conflict is relatable. Morrow's focus, as an actor, is vulnerable enough to let us feel the pain of the character while understanding what has forced him to be strong. Casey Jane (as protagonist Clarissa) is the typical authoritarian boss who manages from above. Jane conveys the many ways people enjoy the perks of unfairness, as long as they can get away with it.

Rae, played by Shawnna Pena-Downing is a character that has long-ago accepted the way things play out. Pena-Downing is convincing in a role that reveals that even when actions are right, there may be a price to be paid. Rebecca Munoz (as Mayra) gently brings a secondary racial subplot to light. Munoz offers a counterpoint character that in reality is often overlooked, but in this story is quietly compelling. Ellis Wallace (as Paulie) is perfectly amenable as the "token white guy" who just wants everyone to get along. Wallace crafts a character who just never seems to realize that empathy is a facade and trying to walk in someone else shoes doesn't mean you truly understand them. Finally, Connor Eastman (as John) is the mystery character who appears late in the show. Eastman lends to the ensemble that element of nervous surprise that rattles to the core.

BWW Review: 'ELEPHANT' at THE LIVINGROOM THEATRE A PRODUCTION OF RISING TIDETwo top reasons to see this show: an acting ensemble that delivers the goods, and amazingly perceptive dialogue as smooth as a hot knife slicing butter.

The performances of this show help to benefit MORE2, an interfaith, social justice, not-for-profit organization involved in the local Kansas City Community. Show proceeds help these agents of change, to break down barriers along the lines of Race and economic status, realizing that what affects any one of us ultimately affects all of us. Co-produced by Casey Jane and Bob Linebarger of Rising Tide Productions.
Pay-What-You-Can preview performances Sept 5-6, 8PM. Two matinee performances throughout the run, one Saturday, one Sunday. Tickets at
September 7 through the 17th, 2018
The Living Room Theatre
1818 McGee Street
Kansas City, MO 64108

Photos courtesy of Rising Tide Productions

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From This Author Paul Bolton

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