Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Old Enough to Know Better
Florida Studio Theatre


Sally Bondi and Dan Higgs
Florida Studio Theatre is currently presenting Old Enough to Know Better in the Stage III Lab. It is described as "an FST project, assembled by Jason Cannon" and is based on interviews conducted by "current and former FST staff." I have seen information about the ongoing interview process over several years, so this is a major undertaking in aural history and life experience.

Old Enough to Know Better is well organized into nine chapters, including Numerical Value, Road Rage (Driving), Companionship, and A God Death which help maintain focus and clarity. The amount of genuine humanity and warmth emanating from the stage cannot be put into words. Many perspectives are represented, including one couple celebrating as the man rolled into three digits of years, a gay man, and lots of others. Many of the short vignettes stir up personal memories as a person of this age group. It made me want to follow up this theatrical experience by hearing other members of the audience share some of their personal experiences, then sharing my own with them.

The actors are paired into couples: Sally Bondi and Dan Higgs; Nicu Brouillette and Lonnetta M. Gaines; and Katelyn McKelley and Bob Mowry. All demonstrate fine chemistry when called upon to enact a vignette featuring a couple and are equally effective in solo opportunities. Mr. Higgs is spot on as a gay man deciding to use Internet dating sites to search for emotional connections, and Mr. Mowry makes a much married man (he cannot imagine keeping company with someone without marriage) sympathetic. Mr. Brouillette is 30 or more years younger than the characters he is called upon to portray and doesn't always demonstrate the emotional maturity required, although I look forward to seeing him in a more age appropriate part. Lonnetta M. Gaines is paired with Nicu Brouillette who lacks the years to emotionally fill the rolls he is asked to portray. I look forward to seeing him in a more suitable part. Ms. Gaines is always a delight, bringing to the stage her optimistic, loving spirit which I have been privileged to share on previous occasions, while Ms. Bondi and Ms. McKelley provide the warmth discussed above. Alison Campbell and TJ Patrick are both acting apprentices at FST and portray the interviewers.

As director and writer, Jason Cannon is the glue that holds everything together. He has organized for clarity and pulled some great performances from his cast. I don't feel that the technical elements—costumes by Abdiel Portalatin, lighting by Michael Sali, and sound design by Joe Goepfrich—represent the best that FST has to offer. If this production, which has been extended, is to have further life, I hope these can be upgraded.

I am deeply moved by Old Enough to Know Better, and based on conversations with other members of the audience at the talk-back, so are others. This is an honest, provocative theatrical experience.

Florida Studio Theatre presentsOld Enough to Know Better through August 16, 2015, at the Gompertz Theater 1241 N. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. For tickets and performance information, please call the box office at (941) 366-9000 or visit www.floridastudiotheatre.org.

Cast: Sally Bondi, Nicu Brouillette, Alison Campbell, Lonnetta M. Gaines, Dan Higgs, Katelyn McKelley, Bob Mowry, TJ Patrick


Photo: Courtesy of Florida Studio Theatre

--William S. Oser


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