Cobwebs & Dust Bunnies

“Play On!”

By Rick Abbot
Community play review by Wanda Swenson
Kudos to Bernie Davis and the cast of “Play On” for a delightful presentation and an afternoon of laughs. If you were not able to attend this community presentation or just didn’t take the time to go on either Thursday night or Sunday afternoon, you missed out on a healthy dose of fun.
This was a lighthearted spoof on what a theater group goes through while trying to prepare a play for opening night when the playwright is sitting in the wings making changes until the day before the curtain opens. It was pretty close to what really goes on when you are working with so many different personalities and situations.
I am amazed every year how well the characters are cast by Bernie. Knowing the community people as we do, it is interesting that the parts fit them so well. These actors had a ton of lines to learn for the three acts, and many times the lines were altered only a little from act to act. I’m pretty sure some of the dialogue was improvised, which made the play even more humorous.
Carrie Howard was hilarious as good and decent Polly Benish acting as “Lady Margaret.” She never broke character, even when things on stage got a little rambunctious, and she delivered her lines with the indignation becoming of royalty.
Jack Davis stole the show several times with his costuming choices. He puts the audience in stitches every year with his uninhibited portrayal of characters. It is evident he supports his wife’s efforts towards community involvement and wants her and the performances to succeed.
Chelsea Wenzel as Gerry Dunbar, the director, was spot on with her dictatorial and frustrated performance. I have directed plays, albeit middle school productions, and I can tell you, Ms. Wenzel did not underestimate the anxiety felt by directors as they get close to the final performance.
The Woonsocket School must be an interesting place to work from day to day if it is to be judged by the teachers who lent their talents to this play. The boisterous and bumbling sound, light and scene technician played by Jason Bruce, the meek but furtive, Brett Kroeger as “Lord Dudley,” and Armondo Rodriguez as the juvenile and immature Stephen Sellers were comical, madcap and kept the funny lines coming.
Veterans of the stage, Tom and Anita Fouberg were very believable as Diana Lassiter, the prim and proper ingénue, and Dr. Rex Forbes, an arrogant, irritated, man-in-charge kind of guy. They maintained the decorum of their characters, even when those characters were doing odd and inappropriate things.
Playwright Phyllis Montague, played by April Larson, perfectly maintained her character’s demeanor as the creative victim, and Sherryl Rankin as Aggie, the stage manager and prompter, was just as loud, pushy and antagonistic as she needed to be.
My only negative criticism is that the stage curtains were a distraction because they didn’t close smoothly and without significant help from stage- hands every time they were opened or closed, of which there were many in this play. There is not much that can be done about that when it is necessary to use a portable stage and backdrops. I remember from years ago, that stages used to be built into one end of auditoriums and gymnasiums, thus eliminating the problem directors must deal with today.
Thanks, Bernie and cast, for another entertaining presentation and please know that your many hours of work were greatly enjoyed by the community. I look forward to another one next year!!

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