College Community Theater Fifth of JulyBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jul 6th, 2007 • Category: Reviews
Listen to our review of College Community Theater’s production of the Fifth of July [MP3 4:32 1.3MB].
Mike: Fifth of July is a play by Lanford Wilson. The scene is a sprawling farmhouse in rural Missouri, which is home to Ken, a legless Vietnam veteran, and his lover, Jed, a horticulturist. They are visited by Ken’s sister, June, and her teenage daughter, and by Gwen and John – the former a hard-drinking, pill-popping heiress who aspires to be a rock star, the latter her wary-eyed husband and manager. All are old friends from college days, and former activists who agitated for what they hoped would be a better world. The action centers on Gwen’s offer to buy the farm, which she plans to convert into a recording center, and on Ken’s Aunt Sally, who has come to the family homestead to scatter the ashes of her late husband. Their talk, as the play progresses, is sharp and funny and, in the final essence, deeply revealing of lost hopes and dreams and of the bitterness that must be fought back if one is to perceive the good that life can offer.
Laura: This was kind of an interesting show. There was a wide range of acting talent. This was the night before opening night so there were still some jitters. Some lines stuttered a bit, but they all got through and they really put their heart into it.
Mike: This show did have a range in the quality of acting. The first act was a little slow and hard to get into. It started right off with some of the action happening. Make sure you read through the playbill when you sit down in the theater to kind of get an introduction into who these people are. The second act was much better. You had a feeling for the characters and they started resolving issues then at the same time new issues would pop up. It was very much a part of life.
This show is also a part of the Tally Trilogy, a series of Wilson plays revolving around the Talley family. This was the first in the series even though it was released second. A big part of me does want to see the other two sections of the trilogy just to see what happens to the family.
Laura: Kenneth Talley, Jr. was played by Jake Kowalke. He was the paraplegic who returned from the Vietnam War and was trying to decide what direction his life was going to take. He had some obvious confidence issues and just really wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. I though he played the part well. You could see him wrestling with going back to teaching versus leaving the country to try to start anew. It was really interesting. He seemed very real in the role and I thought he did a good job.
Mike: June Talley, Ken’s sister, was played by Kate Thompson. She was a wishy washy mother who did not want to discipline her 13 year old daughter. She was paying the penalty because the daughter was not quite walking all over her, but she was confusing the family and making things difficult for everyone. I didn’t really like June Talley too much. She was all yelling and all having things her own way and she knows what was best. She was very insecure. I think that insecurity did come across. There were times when her booming voice really rocked the whole auditorium, partially because there were not a whole lot of people there. It was a nice booming voice when she really got upset.
Laura: The Set Designer for the Fifth of July was Rick Wilson. It was an interesting set. It took place in the back yard of the family’s home. It had a gazebo with some chairs and couple of benches. It was kind of interesting because I was thinking throughout the play some of the lines made me think the gazebo should be older, more run down and beaten up, cob webs and chipped paint. It looked too new.
Mike: The Fifth of July does contain adult language and adult situations. I do not recommend it for anyone under 16 years of age. The show is playing through Sunday the 15. Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sundays at 2. It’s at the Waddell Theater at the Northern Virginia Community College Loudoun Campus. The show runs about two hours and fifteen minutes with one fifteen minute intermission.
Laura: And now, on with the show.
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Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.