Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

An Impending Rupture of the Belly
none too fragile theater
Review by David Ritchey

Andrew Narten and Kelly Strand
Photo by Brian Kenneth Armour
"No leash, no love" has long been the slogan of families who don't want someone's dog defecating on their yard. Train your dog to go to the bathroom in its own yard and the dog-parent cleans up the mess. A problem can arise if the neighbor permits his dog to potty on your grass and, then, doesn't clean up the mess.

That's how An Impending Rupture of the Belly by Matt Pelfrey, which is now playing at none too fragile theater, begins, with neighbors Clay (Andrew Narten) and Doug (Brian O. Jackson) arguing about Doug's dog. Slowly, Clay begins to lose control. Not only does he want to kill the dog, he wants to kill Doug. Clay's wife Terry (Kelli Strand) brings a voice of reason to this battle. Terri is pregnant and wants to protect herself and their unborn baby. She wants peace with Doug and his dog.

Eugene (Mark Rabant) and Clay work together. Eugene feeds Clay ideas of an international battle that may destroy the world as they know it. Eugene argues that Clay must do something to protect his child and contemporary life—and protecting his yard from Doug's dog might be the best way to start.

Clay's brother Ray (Benjamin Gregorio) seems to be mentally ill. He has a difficult time getting through the world. The first time this character is introduced, he is at a pay phone, wearing dirty briefs and calling Clay to come and rescue him. Ray causes problems between Terri and Clay. Terri thinks of Ray as being dirty (or messy), noisy, and a family troublemaker. And, as Ray is played in this comedy, he is all of those things.

none too fragile audiences have seen most of the members of this cast in other plays, and they are perfect in this story of neighbor fighting neighbor. Andrew Narten holds the audience as his character slowly evolves and becomes a different person than he was in the opening scene. This evolution is a sign of good playwriting and good acting. Kelly Strand moves from being a sweet, tender pregnant lady to being strong enough to confront her husband and brother-in-law, as Clay evolves into a controlling husband.

Benjamin Gregorio modulates from being the brother who must be cared for to someone who must care for his own big brother. Mark Rabant creates a character with more energy than I've seen on a stage in a long time. This is Rabant's first performance for this company, and I hope to see him in Akron again soon.

After a recent performance, I heard audience members discuss the challenges of a cast working so close to the audience. Certainly, an intimate theatre space can produce problems for actors. But these talented actors make the proximity to the audience a plus for cast and audience. One of the reasons it works is director Sean Derry's ability to help the cast be comfortable in character when they're close to the audience.

Matt Pelfrey has received numerous awards and honors for playwriting. This one-act play (about 85 minutes) holds the interest of the audience through Clay's descent into madness.

An Impending Rupture of the Belly plays through July 8, 2017, at none too fragile theatre, in the backroom in Bricco's Pub, 1835 Merriman Road. July 8 is a Seá's Night Special Needs Performance for those with actual special needs and their families and friends, with profits donated to Rett Syndrome Research Trust, which is a not-for-profit research group dedicated to finding a cure for Rett Syndrome. For ticket information, call 330-962-5547 or visit

Playwright: Matt Pelfrey
Director: Sean Derry

Clay: Andrew Narten
Terry: Kelly Strand
Ray: Benjamin Gregorio
Eugene: Mark Rabant
Doug: Brian O. Jackson
Adam/Prisoner: Rob Grant

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