Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Secret Order

Katie Cunningham and
Nick Duckart

The Caldwell Theatre presents the suspense filled play Secret Order by Bob Clyman. Secret Order had its world premiere at The Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York on April 8, 2002, and was produced Off Broadway by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in 2007, garnering an Outer Circle Critics Award for Best Script. The other works of playwright Bob Clyman include Famous Ali, Where The Sun Never Sets, and Sigmund Freud: The Untold Story, which has since been presented in New York by the Abingdon Theatre Company under the title of Siggy. Clyman has been awarded a number of national prizes such as the Eugene O'Neill Summer Conference Fellowship, New Jersey State Council on the Arts Award, Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship, and Shenandoah Valley Playwrights Fellowship.

Secret Order is the story of a brilliant young research biologist named William Shumway (Nick Duckart). Shumway works at a cancer research institute in New York, where he has discovered a possible cure for cancer. The dynamic director of the institute Robert Brock (Gordon McConnell) takes Shumway under his wing, as he thirsts for the potential professional and financial rewards the institute would gain from such a discovery. With the prestige and acclaim of a Nobel Prize in mind, Brock presses Shumway to produce the reports supporting the successful progress of his research. When Shumway's progress with his research is thwarted, he is assisted by an eager undergraduate named Alice Curiton (Katie Cunningham). When medicine meets money and ambition, they all find they may be in over their heads. The best of intentions and the most noble of goals may not protect them from the worst of outcomes.

Secret Order has some intelligent banter and an interesting premise, but loses steam along the way. The pacing of the show is filled with peaks and valleys, and there are just too many valleys to keep the momentum or our interest. Nick Duckart and Katie Cunningham are wonderful both separately and together. Howard Elfman as Saul Roth provides a bit of unexpected and welcome levity to the plot. Gordon McConnell establishes a great character, but at the performance attended repeatedly went up on his lines, slowing down the pacing of the show, which at two hours and 40 minutes is just too long.

Secret Order appears through August 1, 2010, at the Caldwell Theatre. The Caldwell Theatre Company is located in the Count De Hoernle Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. The Caldwell Theatre Company is a professional theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. The Caldwell Theatre Company is designated by the State of Florida as a Cultural Institution and receives funding from the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, the Florida Arts Council and the Division of Cultural Affairs. Performance times are usually Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For information and/or tickets you may contact them by phone at 561-241-7432 or online at

Alice Curiton: Katie Cunningham*
William Shumway: Nick Duckart*
Saul Roth: Howard Elfman*
Robert Brock: Gordon McConnell*

Director: Tom Bloom
Scenic Design: Tim Bennett
Lighting Design: Thomas Salzman
Sound Design: Randy Tico
Costume Design: Alberto Arroyo
Stage Manager: James Danford*

*Indicates member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Photo: Sean Lawson

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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