BWW Review: Mesa Encore Theatre Presents [sic]
There's no mistake about [sic]. It's an ingenious construction of a play by Melissa James Gibson (This, Suitcase), colored with her characteristic lively, literate, and provocative dialogue, about five souls seeking meaning, connection and fulfillment. I say five, albeit at the core of this tart and juicy dramedy is a threesome of accidental neighbors who are bonded, for the time being, in a medley of confidences, aspirations, and confessions. The other two constitute a couple who amble between scenes in a journey towards either reconciliation or separation.
Cody Goulder, in an impressive directorial debut at Mesa Encore Theatre, has embraced this gem and polished it up with the advantage of a terrific cast. The result is a probing and sympathetic look at the struggles of this cluster of twenty-somethings for self-actualization and success.
Breaking out of the solitude of one's apartment in a high-rise and connecting with one's neighbors is the passage from cellmate to soulmate, as real a challenge today as it was when the play first appeared and garnered Ms. Gibson an Obie in 2002.
Having said this, it's quite likely that the characters of Seinfeld might come to mind when considering this play, but let me assure you that [sic] is not about nothing; it is about a lot of somethings that define one's life. It's about the strength that friends can provide to overcome their respective vulnerabilities.
For example, there is Theo (David Magadan), fumbling to compose the theme for a thrilling amusement park ride while rebounding from spousal rejection and falling in infatuation with Babette (Melody Knudson), an aspiring author who contends that history is the direct outcome of outbursts. Both console Frank (Chavez Benally) who's been jilted by his boyfriend but is undeterred in his ambition to become an auctioneer. Antoinette Martin-Hanson and Matt Clarke play the couple in marital distress.
Magadan, Knudson, and Benally are marvelous counterpoints to each other, breathing believability and intensity into their roles.
I was especially struck by Ms. Knudson's performance. I have reviewed her earlier performances as Maggie Cutler in The Man Who Came To Dinner (Hale Centre Theatre) and Ophelia in Hamlet (Southwest Shakespeare Company) and have been impressed with the depth and muscularity of her performances. She glows in her role as Babette.
[sic] runs through August 20th at Mesa Encore Theatre's Black Box.
Photo credit to Kim See