Tuesday, July 24, 2012

KC Fringe "Thank You Notes" review by Detailer

Thank You Notes excellent
Rating: 5

Thank You Notes
KC Fringe Festival

A dark comedy, set appropriately for its genre at a funeral. But the genre title seems inadequate for the scope of this production. I am encouraged to think about many serious topics, and feel a wide range of emotions.

Thank you, Vicki Vodrey, Steven Eubank, Vanessa Severo, Scott Cox, Barbara and Jeff Eubank, Mandy Mook, Alex Perry, and the many who donated money so this show could be performed here and in New York.

I am so glad I had the chance to see it. I went into it with high expectations because of my knowledge of the body of work of Vicki and the Eubank family, both as collaborators and in their separate accomplishments. I was not disappointed, as always.

Since I am used to ministers presiding at funerals, I first thought Scott was the pastor as he enters and connects with audience and then moves to preside at what I took to be the pulpit. My assumption caused me to wonder at his choice to be so uncomfortable in that spot.

That confusion soon cleared up, and I settled in for quite a dramatic ride of delightful laughs and emotional shocks.

I like to take lots of notes; but I found myself so caught up in the show that I forgot I was reviewing and did not write a single word. I cannot do this production the justice it deserves, but I do want to write what I can to encourage you to strongly consider coming to this show. There are sexual themes and language that some people choose to avoid; but if you are open to listening to different points of view, I think you will find this a worthwhile show in which to engage your mind and emotions.

Vicki's script blends a variety of humor, poignancy, anger, shock, love, etc. The timing of each of these emotions is just right, never making me stay too long in any one mood, always giving me relief. She writes Vanessa's character to give opportunity for the broad range of emotions and the comic relief so necessary. Her inclusion of the brother's wife also adds a lightness to the show.

Steven brings his excellent understanding of how to nurture and portray relationships. He makes me as audience feel a part of the production without invading my privacy.

I like the unique way the characters interact with each other and the audience. The choice for two characters to say one line together or overlapping is fascinating, and their timing when they finish the other's sentence is perfect.

I think Vanessa and Scott are impeccable. They strike me as being completely immersed in these characters and living in the moment. They make me care about them.

Scott's struggling to keep his inner turmoil at bay is powerful in its subtlety. His slow loss of that control is masterful.

Vanessa's joyful childishness is given action by her varied and interesting physicality. While Scott is rightly confined by the podium as much as by his emotions, she breaks out of her coffin and moves around the stage with lightness and freedom. She has both excellent comic timing and honest dramatic expression.

Mandy is perfect in her sweet innocence, with one-liner surprises that delight.

I particularly enjoyed the song. If I were to ask for anything else in the script, it would be for a few more interruptions in the format of thank-you notes, because the song, with Mandy's singing and Vanessa's physicality, is so much fun.

I was not quite as taken by Mandy's interpretation of her emotions toward the end. The darker emotions were not quite as believable to me as the earlier innocence and patience and sweetness was.

That is just a small quibble with otherwise excellent performances in an excellent production.

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