Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Dusk Rings a Bell

Also see John's coverage of the Carbonell Awards

Jenny McKnight and Gregg Weiner
The Mosaic Theatre presents Dusk Rings A Bell by Stephen Belber. Developed at the Ojai Playwrights Conference in 2009, the play had its world premiere at the Atlantic Theatre Company in 2010. In addition to Dusk Rings A Bell, other plays by Stephen Belber include The Transparency of Val, The Wake, Through Fred, The Death of Frank, Mel and Gene, A small melodramatic story, McReele, and Stabbing. In 2000 he was the winner of the Fringe NYC Overall Excellence Award in playwriting for Drifting Elegant. He was both an associate writer and actor for The Laramie Project (later turned into a film) written in response to the fatal beating of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.

The 90-minute play takes place at the beachside town where a 39-year-old Molly once spent her summers. Molly is a successful public relations executive for CNN living in Washington, D.C.. Divorced and seemingly well-adjusted, she hungers for something indescribable missing in her life. She returns to the town of her youth to retrieve a prophetic note she'd written to herself years before. There she meets Ray, with whom she once shared a blissfully romantic teenaged night at the beach. Together they try to recreate and understand a part of themselves perhaps long gone.

The set for this production is fairly basic, but serves the needs of the play well, as do the costumes and sound. Lighting is less successful, however. There are three pools of light down stage, into which Molly (Jenny McKnight) steps in and out as she delivers her many monologues, and she must walk through dark spaces between the pools to get from one to another. As walking through the dark from one pool to another does not serve to emphathize an acting beat or change in mood, they just impede the momentum within the scene.

Belber's writing is laden with quasi-intellectual phrases and multi-syllabic words expounding on the complex nature of communication. With so many of them packed into every sentence they begin to lose their individual clarity and power. The characters' emotional and psychological motivations behind the phrases therefore become slightly blurry at times.

Both Jenny McKnight (Molly) and Gregg Weiner (Ray) handle the language well, and mange to find the relationship beneath. The moments in which they connect on the simplest of levels, and share a look and reaction are the best. McKnight at times allows the words to come out stilted, when they should be natural extensions of the character. It is a question of emphasis and inflection based on sentence structure regardless of the words chosen. Weiner has a greater connection to the words and his character seems clearer. Perhaps the nature of the characters prevents the audience from ever really emphasizing with them, for at the end of the show we are left emotionally detached from their fate. This, combined with dry, overly wordy monologues, make for theatre that is a tad tedious.

Dusk Rings A Bell will be appearing through May 1, 2011, at the Mosaic Theatre. The Mosaic Theatre is located on the campus of American Heritage School, which is located at 12200 west Broward Blvd in Plantation, Florida. Performances are Thursdays - Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Saturdays at 3:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Ticket prices are $37 for adults, $31 for senior citizens and $15 for students. For tickets and information you may contact the Mosaic Theatre by phone at 954-577-8243 or on line at

Molly: Jenny McKnight*
Ray: Gregg Weiner*

Director: Richard Jay Simon
Scenic Design: Douglas Grinn
Lighting Design: Dan Gelbmann
Sound Design: Matt Corey
Costume Design: K. Blair Brown
Stage Manager: Linda Harris*

* Indicates member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States

Photo: George Schiavone

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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