Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


On Clover Road
San Francisco Playhouse
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's recent reviews of The Boys from Syracuse, Beach Blanket Babylon and Colossal, and Patrick's reviews of 4000 Miles and The How and the Why


Rachel Goldberg and Michael Storm
Photo by Rebecca Hodges
San Francisco Playhouse is presenting in their Sandbox Series a fascinating production of Steven Dietz's On Clover Road as part of the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere series. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout this 80-minute production, with the superb acting of the five member cast and sharp direction by Susi Damilano.

The story takes place in an abandoned motel on an obscure road that gives this drama its tile. It concerns a distressed mother Kate (Sally Dana) and a cruel private investigator Stine (Michael Storm). Kate has been searching for her daughter for over four years. Now that she has been located, Kate must carefully extract her from a cult by trusting a complete stranger to de-program her at the motel. The big question will be, will Kate and her daughter, now in her late teens, reunite happily or will she be a completely changed person from the daughter Kate once knew. There are many twists and turns that I won't spoil for you.

Susi Damilano has assembled a brilliant cast who give hard-hitting, crudely made, and edgy performances. Sally Dana is outstanding as Kate. She skillfully plays the hot-blooded, voracious, demon-haunted character. It's a tour de force of first-rate acting and a physically challenging performance as well.

Michael Storm gives a compelling presentation as venomous Stine the investigator. He plays the role bluntly and hard boiled, like those detectives did in the RKO, Warner Brothers and Fox movies of the '40s and '50s. Adam Elder plays Harris, the leader of the cult movement. He gives a gripping performance that is full of egocentric bravado. Nancy Kimball and Rachel Goldberg as the two girls, give absorbing performances.

Susi Damilano's direction is high pitched and incisive on Jacquelyn Scott's shabby motel room set with a bed and some chairs. Fight choreographer Mike "Miguel" Martinez should be complimented for his realistic fights scenes.

Bottom line: You are in for a roller coaster ride with this thriller. It is the kind of drama that will be successful in future regional theatre productions.

On Clover Road plays at the new Strand Theatre, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco in the upstairs band box theatre called The Rueff through April 16th, 2016. Ticket can be obtained by calling the box office at 415-677-9596 or online at www.sfplayhouse.org.


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