I love that Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is committed to producing new plays. Artistic Director Blake Robison (and Ed Stern before him) allow for new voices, new works, and new stories to come to life with the help of generous donors and the Playhouse staff.
SOONER/LATER, the 77th World Premiere at the Playhouse, is a story about three people but it’s not quite clear who they all are. We know that “Lexie” (Olivia Cygan) is the daughter of “Nora,” (Mary Bacon) because she tells us quite directly in the fourth-wall-breaking opening monologue. And then we meet “Griff,” (the excellent Todd Cerveris) who may be a stranger Nora met in a coffeeshop. He may also be the result of some randomizing trickery by Lexie. Or it could be something else is going on altogether.
I wish the script wasn’t so heavily reliant on clichés, especially in the dialogue. I wish that the story moved with a little more clip. I wish that I believed that these three people actually cared about one another. Earlier this week on a different blog, I wrote about the new season of the TV series “Roseanne.” I loved that show, because even though there was more than enough angst and tension between the family members, you never doubted that they loved one another. SOONER/LATER is the opposite. The jarring transition from when parentified teenage daughter, Lexie, turns into hormonal over-the-top adolescent caricature is staggering in its lack of subtlety. The play is both too short and far too long. It’s contradictory all over the place.
The staging in the Thompson Shelterhouse, a difficult place to produce a play due to its three-sided thrust stage, is very well done. When the script allows for it, the pacing of the scenes is also good. And the performances range from fine to excellent, especially the intriguing and interesting choices Cerveris makes throughout.
I love the energy of a new play; the crackling excitement of a potential new hit. SOONER/LATER, at least without major rewrites, is not likely to be a success – but the effort is surely there.
For a different take, read my friend David Lyman’s review here.
SOONER/LATER runs through April 21st at the Playhouse in the Park. Click here for more information.