Monday, March 14, 2016
Valley Screen and Stage

With Stray Cat’s policy of delivering challenging, deliberately irreverent and thought-provoking, professional theatre that jolts its audience out of complacency while attempting to inspire a love of the art as viewed through a different theatrical’s a perfect direction...fine, seven piece’s uncompromising.

Performed on what initially may appear as a sparse stage, May’s smart direction has his characters move around on a wooden, backyard deck that overlooks a lake, courtesy of Erik Beeck’s scenic design.  The fine, seven piece ensemble all have their individual moment that breaks the fourth wall in order to address the audience, allowing us the luxury of getting to know them and hear what they’re thinking on a more direct level, but it’s the memory of Phillip Herrington’s Con and Shari Watts’ Emma that remains as you leave the theatre.

From the tortured look on his face, his self-inflicted, grief-stricken body language and the exasperated sound of his voice, Herrington’s fears and those inner conflicts that continually rise to the surface feel unexpectedly, even painfully authentic.  Watts, so good in the recentPhoenix Theatre production of Calendar Girls, illustrates here just how accomplished a comedic and dramatic performer she can be.  Miming the movements of how her character’s right hand dies is superior comedy and guarantees applause, but equally good are those moments of emotional drama, stunning an audience into silence.  Watts has a distinctive voice and its one you may suddenly find yourself wanting to hear more often on our local valley stages.