BWW Review: ANYTHING YOU CAN HEAR AND ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU SEE Triumphs at Stray Cat Theatre
In a world of recycled plot lines and rehashed tropes, theatre can often be predictable and trite. When a piece destroys any and all preconceived expectations and does so with grace, hilarity, and well-executed darkness, it is safe to say the piece is a work of art worth celebrating. And that is exactly the gift Anything You Can Hear and Only Half of What You See offers the viewer.
This Quentin Tarantino-style black comedy is written by Arizona native playwright and actor Ron Hunting, and runs through December 10 at Stray Cat Theatre for its world premiere. Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See is a dark, yet hilarious delight, driven by plot twist and turns that leaves the viewer engaged throughout its entirety.
The entire cast is extremely talented, each actor well-versed in the emotions and intricacies their particular character has to offer. George, a mailman accused of being witness to a horrible crime, is played by David Weiss, who embodies George's ambiguous behavior with complete credibility. Devon Nickel, as Phil, and Nathan Spector, as Steve, play a tremendous part as the interrogators who complement the other in temperament--Phil is the more volatile of the pair and Steve is his smooth and charismatic partner. Both actors play with nuance and blatant aggression equally well.
Van Rockwell, Doug Waldo, and Eric Zaklukiewicz round out the cast as the three characters who are pulled unwillingly into the tumultuous interrogation room. Ryan L Jenkins plays Jackie, and is the sole female member of the play, serving as the head interrogator and boss of Phil and Steve. It is a brilliant choice to have a woman controlling the dynamics of an operation and a team consisting of all men, and Jenkins is more than successful in portraying a powerful and intelligent leader. Jenkins's character often serves as Hunting's mouthpiece regarding social issues. Her monologue about American privilege and obliviousness particularly resonates with the audience.
Director Louis Farber leads brilliantly with pacing, ensuring the show never feels rushed or dragged. The various relationships between the characters feel complex, but never misunderstood, and each plot twist is a genuine surprise. Michael Peck's set is well-designed, and helps drive the focal point of the interrogation home. Jessica Florez's props and Maci Cae Hosler's costumes further add to the creative visuals of the piece, and Dallas Nichols's lighting emphasizes each dramatic beat.
Anything You Can Hear and Only Half of What You See runs like a well-oiled machine with brilliant writing, strong direction, and a superb and nuanced cast. It contains blatant moral and social messages, but never resorts to "clapter" and never comes across as preachy. The drama is accompanied by dry humor and goofy bits that never overshadow the plot. Full of completely unexpected plot twists, this show is a phenom and deserves every positive review.
Anything You Can Hear and Only Half of What You See runs through December 10 at Stray Cat Theatre. Tickets can be purchased by calling 480 227-1766 or at straycattheatre.org
Photo credit: John Groseclose