Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Urbanite Theatre
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The Swingaroos: Hollywood Serenade

Amber McNew
Photo by John Dylan Wade Cox
Urbanite Theatre again proves to be fearless with their play choices, this time with Scorch, a one-woman piece by Stacey Gregg about gender identity. The production, directed by Summer Dawn Wallace, is an unsettling 65 minutes and provides amazing insight into the subject matter. Bravo to Sarasota and specifically Urbanite audiences for their commitment to provocative theater.

The play begins with the burgeoning awareness that gender and gender identity are not properly aligned for self-named Kes. In the mind, he is an adolescent boy; he doesn't want to imitate Ryan Gosling, he thinks he should be him. An internet connection awakens strongly sexual feelings at first, and the story, fueled by a strongly physical, utterly amazing performance by Amber McNew, propels the audience through jarring emotional terrain.

Ms. McNew was striking in Reckless at Asolo Conservatory where she pursues her masters degree. (She was scheduled for Rosalind in As You Like It there last spring, but Bonita Jackson took over and was very good in the part, but now I am left wondering what Ms. McNew might have brought to the gender-bending role). For sure, I will not be missing any future performances by this actress.

Scorch is performed in an oval setting, with no physical scenic design, only an androgynous outfit by Dee Sullivan and some really fine lighting effects by Ryan E. Finzelber (also credited with scenic design).

Urbanite patrons by now know to expect to be challenged, and Scorch is one of their most intense play choices in awhile. It also offers a performance to remember for a long time by an actress of great talent.

Scorch, through August 25, 2019, at Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St., Sarasota FL. Visit for tickets and information.