July 16, 2003


Open Season

reviewed by
Lynn Trenning
















For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

For more about Playworks, please visit the playworksonline.org.

When a playwright chooses the theatre as his subject, there is a delicate balance between intelligent myopia and obsessive navel-gazing. Michael McKeever relies too much on our inherent fascination with theatre people, which in the case of Open Season, is unfounded. The quality of the script pales in comparison to the on-stage talent.

In its second season of SummerStage, Steve Umberger’s production company Playworks performs a technically tight drama about three generations of actors. Three of Charlotte’s finest actors have the leads, which somewhat redeems the play. But what the play boasts in execution, it lacks in freshness.

Rebecca Koon plays Mallory Dupre, a middle-aged star with a huge ego and a strident personality. Scott Helm plays her son Christian. The conflict arrives when her father, stage star Edmund Dupre played by Graham Smith, arrives drunk and broke on her doorstep, looking for a place to crash.

Koon uses her significant talent to make Mallory interesting. As written, the character is bossy, disdainful and obsessed with her looks, her age, and what the New York Post is saying about her. She is a stereotypical prima donna. Koon transcends these conceits by wearing the character’s emotions on her wonderfully malleable face.

Graham Smith’s big voice and exaggerated gestures are well-suited to the incorrigible Edmund Dupre. His good humor and excellent timing elicit laughs even when his lines are stale.

Scott Helm plays Christian, once a child star and now an arbitrator among his mother and all the people she offends. His portrayal is honest and wholesome. Though the youngest of the lot, his demeanor is that of an old lady fussing at children to keep the ball out of the flowerbed.

The tedious set-up of the first act is riddled with tepid dialogue. "To say that I am poor would be an understatement." Edmund reiterates as he tries to convince Mallory that he is broke. "Try not to get married while you’re waiting," Christian admonishes his often-hitched grandfather as he goes to fetch Mallory. According to Edmund, Mallory "took to the stage like a fish to water."

Despite the bluster, there is no real animosity among family members. Mallory and Edmund delight in their verbal spars. They are actors on-stage and off, who love to hear themselves speak. While the play poses as an exploration of a troubled family, these characters are no more or less troubled or interesting than any other family.

Bob Croghan’s costume design is most noteworthy in Mallory’s wardrobe. From a fantastic olive and black dress to a tie dyed and sequined dressing gown, Mallory’s costumes embody her love of center stage. Frank Ludwig uses persimmon and mustard tones in his set design of Mallory Dupre’s Upper Eastside town house.

Open Season is standard summer stock fare performed by above-standard actors.

Lynn Trenning, July 16, 2003

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