Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Theater review: There’s No Place Like Homer is a romping adventure
Richardson Theatre Centre was a good set-up for this entertaining story about a road trip.
RICHARDSON The inaugural production of Lunatic Theatre Company is not “The Iliad” (pun intended) but it is definitely an adventure you want to go on!
Bob and Sharon Wilson, a typical middle-class couple, enjoy a leisurely road trip away from the hustle of big city life. A brief bypass through the eastern Kentucky backwoods seems like fun, but when their car breaks down in the isolated hamlet of Homer, Bob and Sharon suddenly find themselves smack in the middle of hillbilly hell, complete with a cornucopia of colorful mountain characters. What’s even stranger is that several of the locals seem to recognize Bob. But why do they keep calling him Zorro? You’ll find out what happens in this hilarious world premiere comedy.
From talent to script, the show is very entertaining, and Richardson Theatre Centre’s black box theatre with seating in a semi-circular arrangement around the stage area is perfect for this production.
The set, sound and props design as credited by “Team Lunatic” is very well done for the space and highly detailed. The setting is the interior of a rural Kentucky café and with elements like authentic signage, license plates and RC Cola and Moonpies, you are wonderfully transported to the location. Great mismatched tables and plastic and wooden chairs coupled with a unique service counter fill all the scripts needs and allow for some hilarious scenes to be played out. The sound effects, including great pre/post show and intermission music by the band If Birds Could Fly from Big Stone Gap, VA and Keith Rae from Houston are simply perfect for the production and add wonderful moods.
Emily-Ann Moriarty’s lighting design is simple and effective. The space has limited capability yet she manages to set the scenes very well and light every actor with perfection.
Direction by Leigh Wyatt Moore is very well done and flows nicely throughout the production. Moore places the action in appropriate locations on the set, allowing for the entire audience to be fully involved in the scenes. The scene changes are spot-on and executed well, including a complicated set dressing change that flows very nicely. I was very impressed with her interpretations of this work and every choice she made artistically is perfectly done, including casting.
Eddy Herring as Bob Wilson does a splendid job carrying the show! As the play’s central character, he exudes talent and perfect character choices throughout the performance. Herring has great stage presence in every scene, from comical to serious and never once are you disappointed with his talent. His reactions with every performer on the stage is genuine, and never once does he overpower others when the scenes’ focus changes. He is definitely a pleasure to watch!
Janette Oswald as Sharon Wilson, Bob’s wife, is another splendid casting choice in the production. Her characterization is highly entertaining and she keeps you thoroughly involved in every scene she’s in. The chemistry is wonderful between her and Herring, and her interaction with some of the other “unique” personalities they encounter throughout the play are hilarious and a joy to watch.
Greg Phillips as Red Barnes is nothing less than side-splitting the entire show! Every line delivery, body movement and facial expression is spectacular and identifies his character with style and comedic finesse. Phillips also shows his professionalism by never pulling focus from any scene he’s involved in when not the primary character driving the scene. It was a true pleasure to watch him perform.
Bert DeLaGarza and Robyn Mead as Mr. and Mrs. Pudwalker, the owners of the café, are another testament to the exquisite casting in the show. Both actors are splendid on stage and carry themselves very well throughout the evening. They have fully developed their respective characters and have wonderful chemistry on stage.
Ben Richardson as Tucker is the most entertaining comedic actor I have seen on stage in a long time, especially since he only really speaks ONE word the first act and then delivers a few lines in Act Two ... yet never leaves the stage! His acting ability and sheer “quiet” magnitude on stage had me and the audience laughing hysterically all night!
This show has a large cast, which I found unique for a world premiere, and some wonderful supporting role moments throughout the evening. Brendan Perrotta as Jimmy Watkins, the town mechanic, plays his character wonderfully as he is ogled by the women in the town. His simple charm on stage makes his character really shine and he never over-acted. David Lambert as Orlyn Cobb and Elaine Erback as Ludie also had wonderful moments on the stage. They both made wonderful character choices in their respective parts and really let you identify, and in some cases, laugh hysterically with their performances.
The theatre’s website states that There’s No Place Like Homer is “Part One of the (never ending?) Hillbilly Chronicles.” If this truly becomes a stage series, I can’t WAIT to see the upcoming versions, and will definitely be there to follow the continuing saga.
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