Monday, July 23, 2012

KC Fringe "Ice Cream Social... Issues" review by Detailer

Ice Cream delicious and substantive
Rating: 4

Ice Cream Social... Issues
KC Fringe Festival

This show is a comic approach to dependency issues.  A family uses an ice-cream social as a disguise for intervention for one of its members who is a drug addict.  While waiting for the intended "guest of honor," family squabbling reveals that just about everyone there has dependency issues.

The church setting allows religious topics to arise, as well.  The scripture "take the beam out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of someone else's" comes to mind.

Overall, I enjoyed this light-hearted production of a thoughtful and revealing script.  I particularly like the irony of each individual's own flaws being illustrated in the process of trying to help one of their own handle a different flaw, yet not really so different.  I also enjoy the way religious topics are woven naturally into the conversation.  The script builds appropriately and reveals new information in entertaining ways.  We are invited to think about dependency issues and religious beliefs and family relationships without being lectured.

Physical humor is well-done, but I especially like the verbal humor that arises from natural conversation about a variety of social, religious, and relational topics.  The show begs for interesting uses of the ice cream, and those actions happen at just the right times, keeping us anticipating but not so long we give up.

Some of the staging is awkward, with actors trying to look behind them to talk to people.  I attribute this to limited rehearsal time in the space.  I would prefer that chairs not end up in quite such a line.  It would be fun to see this show performed with more rehearsal time in the space, to allow more variety of stage pictures and blocking.

The opening entrance of a person who is not introduced and has few words gets my attention and wins some audience laughter, although I think the show would benefit from cutting its length.  The opening seems out of proportion in time to the rest of the show.  It would be fine for a full-length play.

Standout performers are Manon Halliburton and Karla M. Fennick.  Although very different in looks, their chemistry together gives me no doubt that they are sisters.  Both women have strong, resonant voices which make use of a wide range of pitch and emotion.  Manon has command of the stage, with a take-charge entrance that never lets go.  Karla uses business to keep her every moment on stage interesting and revealing of character without pulling focus. Watch her while Manon is arguing center stage with her daughters.  The way Karla uses the potato chips as she listens from center left communicates a great deal.  Karla's corn story steals the show.

I enjoyed Danielle Drury, who plays the only non-family member present.  I wish the script would feature her more.  People outside a family always bring a new perspective to those who have been living within, and it would be interesting to hear more from this character as she observes the family in action.

Other actors and elements of the production are erratic in quality.  The daughters, Meredith Wolfe and Hannah Cowger, have many delightful moments, including funny sisterly bits of business.  Meredith often is too presentational for my taste, making her facial expressions and gestures completely full front.  I prefer more connection with scene partners.  But their interactions are believable as sisters, and their line delivery and playful actions often earn laughs.

I was both entertained and inspired to thought by this show.  It's worth seeing.

No comments:

Post a Comment