Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Set in an abandoned warehouse in Phoenix, the ninety-minute drama plays out over just a couple of days as a group of individuals are kidnapped and then questioned after one of them, a postman, witnesses a possible murder. To say anything more about the plot would reveal too much and take away from the fun of experiencing this new work live.
Hunting's dramatic script is being billed as a cross between Quentin Tarantino and David Mamet, which is a fair assessment since it is peppered with some humorous moments and sharp dialogue amongst the more intense and violent interactions. It also has several interesting plot twists and an ending that has a nice payoff, all of which you never see coming. There are a couple of small plot holes and some moments where the comedic lines are a bit out of place, even though this is a black comedy, as they don't exactly ring true considering they are delivered by individuals being held at gun point. But those are my only very small issues with an otherwise engaging script.
The play is a true ensemble piece with good work from David Weiss as George, the mailman who witnessed the murder, and Ryan L. Jenkins as the intellectual leader of the interrogators. Both deliver layered performances of these two very different people. Devon Nickel and Nathan Spector portray the two men who work for Jenkins and they both provide solid performances filled with annoyance and anger which is the result of working for Jenkins' controlling character and having to deal with the irritating people they are interrogating. Doug Waldo, Van Rockwell, and Eric Zaklukiewicz play the three men who are pulled into the interrogation due to their relationship to Weiss' character. Waldo and Rockwell are fun as the constantly bickering friends and Zaklukiewicz is appropriately nerdy and nervous as George's milquetoast accountant.
Louis Farber directs with a firm but balanced hand which ensures the tension remains taut and the comedic moments pop. However, he could add a bit more menace in the portrayals of the three interrogators to set a more appropriate level of fear and danger which would make the humorous moments have even more resonance. Creative elements are impressive, with Michael Peck's excellent set design, Maci Cae Hosler's costumes, Jessica Florez's props, and Dallas Nichols' lighting all adding plenty of realism to the piece.
Stray Cat Theatre's production of Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See is interesting and has a capable cast, sure-footed direction, and impressive creative elements. While it makes for an engaging dramatic experience, with a few more updates to the script and a little more threatening sense of danger in the acting it could be an even more absorbing play and production.
Anything You Hear and Only Half of What You See at Stray Cat Theatre runs through December 10th, 2016, with performances at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. Tickets can be ordered by calling 480 227-1766 or at straycattheatre.org
Written by Ron Hunting