South Carolina. (Dialogue Coach Stephen Gabis has done a fine job finessing speech.) We open on a hot sex scene discretely shown, i.e. he’s naked, she wears her bra (modern theatrical mores). Macon (Dayra Player-a woman) and Dana (Kevin Kane) have a lusty, playful relationship. There’s a problem, however. Macon is married to Dana’s best friend, Todd (Michael Abbott Jr.), and Dana to sweet Caroline (Brooker Garrett). The secret couple have agreed to imminently leave their spouses.
Kevin Kane and Sayra Player
Days before departure, with guilty parties unable to come up with an excuse, Macon, Dana, Todd, and Caroline are thrown together by Hurricane Evelyn when Todd presses for a party at his house. Previous weather scares have amounted to little so none are extremely worried. The plan is to wait out the storm in a haze of liquor, board games, junk food, and smoke. Proximity, nature’s turbulence, and altered consciousness fuels a nascent fire – not to mention, Todd’s suspicions.
Intimacy is compounded seven ways from Sunday by the appearance of/intrusion by grocery check-out girl Tabby (Lacy Marie Meyer) and her friend, Jade (Toni Lachelle Pollit), sexual libertines who arrive with a veritable drugstore…and a gun. (Macon inadvertently allowed that Tabby might come during friendly store banter.) Everyone gets seriously stoned one way or another. Inhibitions dissolve. Violence ensues, some irreparable.
Lacy Marie Meyer
Playwright David Thigpen clearly has talent. His characters are whole, their relationships viable, dialogue and progression of emotions realistic. Scenes emerge in fluid vignettes. While the addition of Tabby dilutes what might have been an intense four-handed turn, were she better integrated, the character as device might’ve been less obvious. (Jade, however, is irritatingly extraneous.) This and Thigpen’s painting himself into a corner, vis-à-vis the ending, are my two script caveats.
All six artists are good and work very hard. Sayra Player, Michael Abbott Jr., and Lacie Marie Mayer standout. Macon is angry, animal sexy, and strong. I would clock this actress whatever she does. Todd is obnoxious, grabby, and in pain. Tabby is palpably naive/oblivious.
Director Maria Dizzia creates an out of control situation without going over the top in over the top circumstances. Physical acting is excellent. The group appears whacked out of its mind. The stage is well employed. Pacing is tight.
Michael Abbott Jr.
What really makes a play work? We can list attributes, certainly academics do, but in the end, these are only a framework. It’s like reading about someone, even by his/her own hand, on a dating site. Until you meet and feel how everything behaves together, you don’t really know whether you’ll get along. Oh, and there’s chemistry with which to contend. Here, we just don’t care. The sum of the parts, mostly well crafted facets, leave us cold. Go figure.
Frank J. Oliva’s poor southern house with evocative wood framework collaborates well with casual/tacky costumes by Louise Ingalls Sturges.
Fight direction by David Anzuelo is thoroughly credible. Gregory Casparian’s projection design adds solid dimension.
Photos by Austin Donohue
Opening: Brooker Garrett and Michael Abbott Jr.
Hurricane Party by David Thigpen
Directed by Maria Dizzia
Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street
Through October 7, 2018