Boy meets Girl. It is such a short, sweet sentence that seems to be so simple, but who the hell are we kidding? Each boy and girl comes with family, friends, baggage, fears, hopes, dreams, medical problems, angst, occasional rash and, well, need I go on? Most of the fun stuff of relationships comes from our family members and our emotional friends. Can I get an Amen in here? But along this ride come comedic journeys and moments of deep resolve and depth. I found all of that in the recent production of “Kin” by Bathsheba Doran currently playing at Dobama Theatre. Beautifully directed by Shannon Sindelar, this play is funny and fascinating as it glides through two lives coming together with a series of vignettes that weave a love story with all the trappings involved. It is like watching all the stories at a Thanksgiving dinner, where you are blessed and reminded why it should only happen once a year.
This play features a fierce cast of players at the top of their game, and technical elements that haven’t been seen in Cleveland for a long, long time. I will rave about that later on. But these actors! Elana Kepner* plays Anna, the “girl” of this play. Kepner is sublime, as she navigates through an overzealous best friend, a literary creation with a dangerous title, dealing with family matters, and finding, possibly, true love. She is a pleasure to watch and becomes a compelling thread throughout this fabulous story. As her father, Pete Ferry* (Adam) is terrific. He has a dashing John Wayne command of the stage and is wonderful at showing the damaged but loving sides of his character, allowing a flawed character to come back and reemerge a better man. Then we come to Helena, played with frenetic brilliance by Leighann Delorenzo. Delorenzo plays the heck out of this character so well, if she were to show up at Pamplona, the bulls would run the other way. But there is also a beautiful undercurrent of desperation that keeps Helena interesting and fun to watch.
Geoff Knox as Sean, the “boy” of this piece, is terrific. With athletic looks intact, Knox brings brooding electricity to his scenes, not overdoing anything, but centering his character in truth and focusing on achieving his desires to move past love and reacquire it. His mother Linda, as played by Lenne Snively*, is a treasure. Supreme confidence and emotionally open about what haunts her and what she wants for her son. Snively clearly depicts all the character aspects of having a son away, dealing with a tragic past, and accepting what the future holds. As Uncle Max, Bob Keefe deserves a life time achievement award for getting through the treadmill scene in one piece. Trust me, it is a scream. Keefe is awesome, whether slinging Jameson with sis or sharing advice with the nephew. Great stuff.
David Bugher plays two roles in this piece. We meet him first as Simon, and boy do we meet him: giving one of the funniest “I am breaking up with you” speeches ever. And a lot has to do with his deft comedic timing. Too funny. Then he pops up again, gun in hand, as Gideon, a hunter who saves Helena from a bear, which is another great comedic bookend. There is even a moment of tenderness thrown in for good measure. Great work. Jeanne Task is in top form as she brings humor and honesty to Kay, the other woman in Adam’s life. Task takes on a reserved persona but still generates laughs, and touches your heart with simple, beautiful acting. And then there is Rachel Lee Kolis as Sean’s ex, Rachel. It is rare that an actor has one scene but it is so honest and brilliant that you can’t forget the performance. That is the case with this young actress. It was a privilege to watch such purity of acting.
And speaking of fabulous, the technical elements of this show are just that. WOW. Particularly, the projection effects designed by Mike Tutaj are the coolest thing I have ever seen in Cleveland. I don’t want to spoil anything by describing what happens to the set, but you have to see this fine artistry. Scenic Designer Tiffany Scriber produces a fascinating set that ignites when lit. Marcus Dana’s Lighting Design is terrific as usual. Costume Designer Jenniver Sparano is in top form. Sound Designer Richard Ingraham sounds terrific. (See what I did there?) Technical Director David Tilk did an excellent job of pulling all the elements together. Kudos to Stage Managers Megan Mingus and Joel Rathbone for calling a great show. I also understand the technical assistants did some yeoman work on this piece, so congrats to Mary Rathell, Bryan Ritchey, and Jeremy Dobbins.
This is one hell of a way to end a season.
Please credit “TPOGRAPHY.COM”, if you use any quotes. Thank you.
*Members of Actor’s Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.
$10-$26 Reserved Seating
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118