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Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

RecklessAsolo Conservatory for Actor Training
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of 2019 Circus Sarasota and Burn This

Brian Ritchie and Amber McNew
Photo by Frank Atura
A couple lying in bed on a Christmas Eve long ago. She is wound up with excitement, just short of manic. He has a sudden, startling thought and jumps out of bed to tell her that he has taken out a contract on her life. He then pushes her out a window as we hear the hit man breaking a window downstairs. Now, she is off on a whirlwind couple of years in Craig Lucas' absurdest comedy Reckless .

The play grabbed me right from the start, it seemed to fly by. The entire tenor of the piece shows a direct lineage from the plays of Joe Orton, who died in 1967. This is not as far fetched as it may seem—Orton's plays first appeared in the 1960s, but John Lahr's biography of the playwright, "Prick Up Your Ears," came out in 1978, so was reasonably current, keeping Orton front and center as a gay icon as late as 1983 when Reckless was first presented.

All of the acting is on a higher level than seen in the two earlier Conservatory productions this season, Arcadia and Ghosts, although that may be partially due to Reckless being in a more modern style, easier for the young actors to assimilate. This is very much an ensemble piece and the company performs as one. Special mention must be made of Amber McNew as our heroine, Rachel. She makes a cartoonish character (all of them are) come alive.

The real hero of this production is director and Conservatory alum Brendan Ragan. His production functions as an organic whole, seamless, in a style completely in sync with the quirkiness of the text. Even the scene changes are choreographed by movement coach Eliza Ladd to move as the play does. Scenic design by Jeffrey Weber, costume design by Sofia Gonzales, and lighting design by Chris McVicker all contribute to the excellence of the production.

Drawing from French theater of the absurd a little, Joe Orton's black comedy/farces, and a whole host of other influences, Reckless is vivid and timely. I'm not sure it is going to be to everyone's tastes, but it is well served by Brendan Ragan's vision. Highly recommended.

Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training's Reckless, through March 10, 2019, at the Cook Theater in the FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For more information visit or call the box office at 941-351-8000.

Cast (in order of appearance):
Rachel: Amber McNew
Tom/Tom Jr./Derelict/Man in Ski Mast: Creg Sclavi*
*Lloyd: Brian Ritchie
Pooty/Receptionist/Talk Show Host: Carla Corvo*
Trish/Game Show Assistant/Sue/Woman Patient/Derelict: Jillian Cicalese
Roy/Tim Timko: Jonathan Grunert
Doctors 1-6: Michael Judah
Announcers: Marc Bitler, Joe Ferrarelli, Alex Pelletier
*==Appears Courtesy of Actors' Equity Association