As you enter the theatre and see cold blue lights bouncing off a desk and passť office chairs on the stage, you might wonder what are you in for. We soon learn about four fascinating characters, played by very skillful actors. We are bombarded by words by Dennis (Patrick Russell), a producer pitching a concept for a reality TV series. He speaks at a machine gun speed level. He is a bombastic person full of himself who claimed he was in the military serving in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Joe (Kyle Cameron) his co-producer is the exact opposite, with a mousey nature, totaling lacking in courage or personality, and without initiative. It's curious why he is in this business of reality producing. Both are on the very tight deadline of 24 hours to come up with an idea for a reality show. Also, Dennis has an assistant named Kelly (Liz Sklar) who is very manipulative, especially when it comes to Joe.
Richard Dresser's drama has a subplot that occurs mostly in a bar on Nina Ball's effective changeable set. This is accomplished with the clever lighting of Seth Reiser. During these scenes, Joe and his girlfriend Susan (Marissa Keltie), to whom he has just proposed, discuss their uncertain future, and we find that Joe has the "hots" for Kelly.
Trouble Cometh's playwright certainly has a way with words and the confrontations between Dennis and Joe are excellent. The play still looks like a work in progress, especially with the scene switching between the bar and office that takes place many times during the 80-minute production. It creates a jarring effect.
Kyle Cameron gives a pleasing performance as the nebbish Joe. You actually feel for him when he goes up against Dennis. Patrick Russell is pitch perfect as Dennis. He is a forcefully convoluted dynamo of cutting sarcasm and aggressive intimidation.
Liz Sklar and Marissa Keltie give superlative performances as the controlling Kelly and the egocentric Susan. Rounding out this cast in a small role is Nandita Shenoy, who commendably plays Vashti, the producer of the series. May Adrales's direction is fast paced with too many scene changes from the bar to the office.
Trouble Cometh runs through June 27th, 2015, at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-677-9596 or visit www.sfplayhouse.org. Coming up next is Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company, opening on July 11.