Two Fantastic Locally Written Plays Premier! - TribPapers

Two Fantastic Locally Written Plays Premier!

Scott Fisher & Kirby Gibson Are Ben & Angela. Photo by Steven Samuels.

Asheville – Sublime Theater’s Ben & Angela was superb, of course. The cast and crew involved are all immensely skilled, so I knew it would be top-tier theater, but I didn’t know how invasive it would be. I didn’t know that it would crawl into my psyche as it has.

The story has no plot. It is driven solely by characters. Since David Hopes created those characters, and since Kirby Gibson and Scott Fisher are portraying those characters, they are highly watchable. They are witty, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and silly. And they are real. So very real.

Rachel Fralick as Alice. Photo by Kristi DeVille.
Rachel Fralick as Alice. Photo by Kristi DeVille.

They are authentically flawed, and while we in the audience watch them grow, we are given both a physical and psychological transformation. Costume designer Kayren McKnight does a fabulous job of supporting and emphasizing their ages and personalities with her wardrobe choices.

Director Steven Samuels made choices that kept the two-character show wonderfully interesting as it traveled through time and place. Done entirely in minimalist style, I was captivated throughout. Jason Williams’ lighting design and Kristi DeVille’s choreography added moving and gorgeous layers.

It was a night of laughter and tears. We got to know Ben and Angela as they allowed us to follow their journey. Sometimes, for me at least, holding up a mirror to my own pain or flaws. Endearing us to them from the opening scene, so that we in the audience felt invested in the ups and downs of their stories.

It was not one of those plays that could be left behind after the curtain call. It has stayed in my brain, continuing to spark my own memories and dreams.

Ben & Angela performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through October 21st at Be Be Theatre. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Alice’s Adventures in Murderland Is Magical Mayhem!

Montford Park Players’ final show for their 51st season of free outdoor theater is one you will not want to miss!

Asheville writer Will Storrs’ Wonderland Legacies: Alice’s Adventures in Murderland is a phenomenal dark offering for October.

His dialogue is as fast-paced, whimsical, and urbane as Lewis Carroll’s, but Storrs takes it much further.

His wordplay and seemingly nonsensical writing convey far deeper meanings. While Carroll focused on the manners, schooling, and mathematics of the day, Storrs brings to light modern struggles and perspectives.

Our favorite characters are all there. Rachel Fralick is our fierce Alice, Jon Robinson (who also designed the ominously delightful set) plays a maddening Hatter, and Gabby Bailey offers up a White Rabbit that is not to be underestimated. In addition to writing this innovative spin on the timeless tales of Wonderland, Will Storrs is also the lurking, slyly sinister Cheshire Cat.

The Red Queen is dual-cast, opening with a vicious Ronnie Z. Nielsen in the role and Naimah Coleman taking on the part the final two weekends.

As the title suggests, Wonderland is quite violent, and director/fight choreographer Deanna Braine-Smith’s sword and combat creativity and mastery are evident throughout. The fight scenes are acrobatic, mesmerizing, startling at times, and always impressive.

Many in the large cast play multiple roles, fighting and dying over and over again. Among those are Darren Marshall and Goober Berdine as the murderously ridiculous Tweedles Dee and Dum; Gaia Eggert as the curtly cautious Doormouse; Cody Fox (who is also the show’s sponsor) is a delightful Mock Turtle; and Montford Park Players newcomer Faust gives us their enigmatic Caterpillar.

I must also mention the costuming, as it added to the overwhelming ambiance of the show. Eccentric, of course, designer Danielle Allen and armorer Artemis Adams took everything a giant step further than I had anticipated. I don’t want to offer any spoilers there, but their work to bring this aesthetic to life is impressive.

Between the darkness and the murders, this play is unhinged in its hilarity while still sometimes crushing me emotionally.

Come fall down the rabbit hole to Murderland with Alice. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Saturday, October 28th.

Alice’s Adventures in Murderland is rated 18 and over for violence and language.