TheatreWest and its artistic director Gordon McConnell present Tower, their second show in the new space at the The Stonzek Studio Theater. Located next to the Lake Worth Playhouse, it is hard to imagine a South Florida theatre that does black box better than The Stonzek.
Tower is set in 1976 South Carolina and is the story of a "good old boy" named Buddy, his estranged wife Joleen, his sexually-questioning best friend Tate and his younger brother (actually called Brother). Brother is a Vietnam veteran who exists in a seemingly animalistic, silent state of shell shock. He lives at the water tower located next to Buddy's trailer home (from this, the play takes its title). Written by Steven Griffith (who also appears in the lead role), Tower has a set design that is perfect for this theatre, and somehow, after the first 30 seconds, one forgets that the space is small. This is assisted by the fact that the cast uses the space well.
Taking time away from her duties as Managing Director for Florida Stage, Nancy Barnett (Joleen) is memorably sassy and sexy. Paul Homza (Tate) admirably tackles both lengthy rapid-fire speeches, as painful-looking Judo flips at the hands of Joleen. Steven Griffith (Buddy) is an appropriately flawed Every Man, and Adam Simpson (Brother) unenviably fleshes out his character without a word of dialogue.
While the characters painted by the author's words indeed hold our interest, it is not enough to redeem this play. The writing is a muddled mixture of unexplained plot points and unexplored imagery. Though we may want the character studies to continue, the show falters to an awkward ending, leaving merely puzzled faces in the audience at curtain call. While we look forward to future productions from TheatreWest, it may be best to sit this one out.
Tower plays through December 19th, 2004 at the Stonzek Studio Theater at 709 Lake Avenue, in Lake Worth. TheatreWest is a professional theater hiring Equity and non-Equity actors. Tickets for this show, and information on the entire season are both available at (561) 586-6410.
Director: Gordon McConnell
* Denotes member of Actor's Equity