A No Wake Buoy: indicates that the wake (waves) of a boat traveling at or below idle speed won’t cause injury or damage to people, boats, or property.
It’s difficult to fairly gauge the quality of a play when one of only three performers doesn’t weigh in. Though William Donnelly’s piece is predictable, it’s also well written and would certainly be more successful if otherwise cast.
Divorced couple Edward Nolan (Stef Tovar) and Rebecca (Tricia Small) meet again when their estranged, mentally ill daughter Suki commits suicide. Rebecca is now married to Englishman Roger Padgett (Tim Ransom), there to provide support in what she assumes will be an adversarial encounter. Edward is in a relationship with Tricia, angrily complaining- by telephone, that she wasn’t asked along. Relationships are cloudy during a great part of the first scene.
The funeral is over. Roger has shepherded Edward into a bar while Rebecca handles relatives. Suki’s father is crushed. Despite her aggressively hostile behavior at home, he feels guilty at not having done more to help and then leaving the family. (All efforts at staying in touch were thwarted.) Roger gamely tries to distract the poor man, slightly ambivalent due to his wife’s negative stories concerning her ex. Rebecca seems – well, here’s the rub. Right out of the gate, it’s impossible to tell anything about the character. Except for brief parentheses, the actress never inhabits the role. Even her listening is vague.
Tim Ransom, Stef Tovar
Compelled to clarify the past and perhaps find closure, Rebecca goes to Edward’s hotel room. What begins spiky, ends in bed. Roger intuits what happens while sharing a breakfast table with the pair. Fisticuffs ensue, but the men are realistic. Now what?
As Edward and Roger, Stef Tovar and Tim Ransom couldn’t be more natural. Both performers appear to think and react in real time. Tovar manifests small, nervous gestures that make his character familiar and sympathetic. He’s entirely credible. Ransom creates a somewhat stiffer Brit, but allows us to see that Roger loves his wife and is trying like hell to man up. A sarcastic speech is ably given its due. Every time Rebecca appears, however, air goes out of the balloon.
Director Veronica Brady might have done more to alleviate this situation. As it stands, the actors reflect good direction, the actress does not. An on stage fight (choreographer Ned Mochel) looks almost intentionally girly in its awkwardness.
The Set, by Tom Buderwitz, couldn’t look cheaper or less appropriate. What characters refer to as an opulent hotel room looks like the Salvation Army. When the three meet at the downstairs coffee shop, there’s nothing to indicate they’re not still in someone’s room (where the table has been as well).
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Tricia Small, Stef Tovar, Tim Ransom
Route 66 Theatre Company & Bella Vista Entertainment present
No Wake by William Donnelly
Directed by Veronica Brady
Through October 15, 2017