At one point, I looked down and knew that this was a great show because on “Jenny’s” (Leah Strasser) leg was an ankle bracelet that actually lit up with a little red light. The attention to detail to something so small – only the front row would have probably ever noticed – shows you how seriously these art-makers take their craft. This is standard for the people at Homegrown Theatre, which this year includes the always engaging Strasser, Dylan Shelton, Simon Nathaniel Powell, and Erin Ward, as well as director Jared D. Doren, and playwright, Ben Dudley.
If that’s not an A+ all-star lineup, then I don’t know what is.
Dudley has written an interesting play about sisters. And secrets. Revenge. And family. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will tell you that if you’ve never heard Erin Ward sing and play guitar, then you do not know what you are missing. Her original music is one of the many things that puts it on my “not to be missed” list.
Ward is someone I often think should be used on stage more in Cincinnati. She’s beautiful and versatile. She can play young and innocent, but there’s a rasp in her voice that also makes her a tad bit dangerous. Strasser, whose versatility is something I’ve written about over and over, is mesmerizing. Her confidence as an actress is second to none and it informs her performance whether she’s playing innocent victim – or in the case of ONE MORE BAD THING – a very angry, misguided young woman. Shelton turns in an understated, fine performance and Powell, who rises to the level of talent he’s on stage with, is strong here interacting with the two charismatic women.
Doren knows what he’s doing; I know first hand how he can take what’s on the page and make sure that it’s dynamic and interesting. Working in a space like the Art Academy’s lecture hall is challenging because of the sightlines and the large-scale room. He blocks the piece so that nothing important to the story is missed no matter where the audience might be seated. It’s a small thing, but so important. His directorial skill is second to none. Paired with the creative writing of Mr. Dudley, who’s jokes and family drama land very well in this new play, make this show one that should not be missed.
ONE MORE BAD THING is a straightforward piece of storytelling. For me, that’s a very GOOD thing.
ONE MORE BAD THING is part of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which runs through next weekend. Click here for more information on tickets.