Wednesday, July 25, 2012

KC Fringe "Tack Driver" review by Detailer

Tack Driver worth seeing
Rating: 4

Tack Driver
KC Fringe Festival

I suspect that this show's ratings will go up as the week continues, because this is literally a work in progress. Lines were re-written an hour before the performance I saw, and I gather the intent of this experimental entry by writer / director Jerry Genochio is to use Fringe audiences to workshop the piece into final form. It is well worth being a part of the process.

Two brothers re-connect after many years to carry out the pact they made long ago. The play gradually reveals what the pact is and why they made it. The story makes me curious not only about what the pact is but also if they really will carry it out.

Actors Kyle Hatley and Matt Rapport turn out excellent performances, keeping my interest every moment. Their conversation and movement seem natural, and they create interesting stage pictures. Their chemistry together works well. Both actors handle the moments when they refer to scripts unobtrusively, keeping in character and continuing the flow of the scene. I hardly noticed the scripts, and their use did not lessen the emotion for me. I think it helped that the director explained about them at the top of the show.

Scene designer Misty Pelas and properties designer Gary Campbell prepare a detailed set that is at the same time simply and efficiently put together. The props hanging out over the edge of the walls against the black background is a striking effect. I like lighting designer Margaret Spare's choice to open with light shining through the slats of the walls. Dan Earnest's sound design is especially effective when music builds to heighten the suspense. The work of Sarah Cooper as stage manager and Betsy Kennedy as costume designer complete the success of the crew.

There are many things I like about the script so far. The physical, personal illustration of a tight grouping in shooting makes its point well. They have a very funny discussion about singers and actors and who played The Music Man; each thought chases them into a different thought, and they veer off into another direction. I wanted to applaud when they finally mentioned Robert Preston.

Two memorable lines summarize what the play means to me. The first: If you get stung by a scorpion, you stomp the scorpion. You know what it is, but you still stomp it. That invites thought about capital punishment, redemption, forgiveness, consequences. The second: Some people do bad things. You have to do good things to balance it out. That invites thought about determining what really are the good things to do.

I think there are two places in which the script needs refining. One has to do with how the backstory is told. The device used now is contrived, and I think there is a better way to get the narrative out to us. I also am not convinced about why the brothers change sides about following through on their pact, and then why they come to an agreement. The reasons need to be made more specific and more immediate. The script could also be improved by adding more conflict between the brothers.

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