BWW Review: WHITE SANGRIA Opens at the KC Melting Pot
The KC Melting Pot production of White Sangria opened Friday night at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Mo to a sparse audience. Harvey Williams the founder of the KC Melting Pot, which is in its inaugural season, directs the play written by Arika Larson. The 2011 Kansas City Fringe Festival, where it won best-selling show in its venue, introduced audiences to White Sangria. Foreign Bodies by Larson premieres at the Artist's Movement later this year in New York.
White Sangria is the second production of the Melting Pot, highlighting plays written by women from Kansas City this season. Vicki Vodrey wrote their first production The Frowning Vajayjays of Shady Pines. Michelle T. Johnson is the playwright for their last 2014 production, Echoes of Octavia.
Larson offers up a story of a highly dysfunctional couple that is into mind games, between themselves and the couple that have invited over. The extremely complicated relationships make it difficult to keep up with the twists from lies to truth to lies. Ben and Marla, make the evening uncomfortable and unbearable for Susan and John, setting upon them with shocking and horrifying revelations. Act I ends as Marla is about to expose to Susan how she met Ben, a disclosure that shocks Susan. Though the play opens with lines that sound slightly forced by both Ben and Marla by the start of the second act their dialogue is smooth and natural.
Sabrina "Brie" Henderson takes on the role of Marla Bourbina with zest and a powerful intensity. Her performance shows her dramatic talent as she taunts first Susan and John, then Ben. She is able to pull off sarcastic lines with ease, hiding the true nature of her character. Becoming more intoxicated in the second act, her character becomes more deliberate and angry. Henderson has previously appeared in the Kansas City Fringe Festival and with the Mystery Train Murder Dinner Theater.
Jonathon Engle makes his debut at the KC Melting Pot., playing Marla's seemingly transparent husband Ben. As Act I begins he shows little emotion and his lines sound as if he were reading them, but by the start of Act II, his actions are more natural, flowing smoothly with the character. The climax of his performance is when he flies into a rant at Marla.
Melody Butler portrays Susan Hardin, the daughter of Ben's boss and a teaching tennis professional. She provides a good performance reacting appropriately to the jabs thrown at her by Marla. She perfectly sets the tone of her character, as the play progresses and her character becomes more uncomfortable with the hosts. Butler has appeared at the Kansas City Fringe Festival and is a teaching artist for The Coterie Theatre.
Coleman Crenshaw, making his debut with the Melting Pot, plays John Martin, Susan's husband. John is a timid stiff-collared man who seems easily embarrassed by the comments made by both Ben and Marla. Crenshaw provides the most even performance of the night. He becomes his character from the beginning to the final curtain call. He has previously appeared with the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, The Living Room, and the Kansas City Fringe Festival.
White Sangria continues for the KC Melting Pot at the Just Off Broadway Theatre through May 18. Purchase tickets at the KC Melting Pot website. Photo courtesy of KC Melting Pot.