Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Port City Playhouse Nuts

By • Jan 15th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Nuts by Tom Topor
Port City Playhouse
Lee Center for the Performing Arts, Alexandria, VA
Through January 24th, 2010
2:15 with one intermission
$16/$14 Seniors & Juniors
Reviewed January 8th, 2010

Nuts takes place in a hearing room in New York’s Bellevue Hospital. Claudia Faith Draper is challenging the state’s assertion that she is mentally unfit to stand trial for murder. Draper has to face her past in order to convince the judge she isn’t nuts.

This was a fairly intense drama without many light moments. The twists and turns were revealed methodically, and by the conclusion, you aren’t able to predict the outcome.

Draper was well played by Karen Jadlos Shotts. She was able to turn on the charm and exchange barbs with everyone in the courtroom, from her parents to the doctor, to the court personnel. Shotts’ movements were deliberate and controlled. Her voice was full of anger and maybe even a little remorse for an upbringing that went wrong. Her performance in the third act definitely captured the audience’s attention.

Donnell Boykin, in the tole of Prosecutor Franklin MacMillan brought an air of authority to the proceedings. His no-nonsense approach to the hearing was realistic of an overworked bureaucrat. Defense attorney for Claudia, Aaron Levinsky, was played by Jeff Murray as an overworked, underpaid, but quite concerned attorney made for an interesting dynamic as he tried to reel in Draper’s outbursts and to follow his client’s instructions he obviously disagreed with.

Director Don Neal kept the action moving, although at times the first two acts seemed to be less about the case than in exploring Draper’s life. Draper’s parents (David James and Kate Blackburn) telling stories of their relationship wth their daughter provided an interesting reason for Draper’s behaviors.

The basic courtroom set was functional. There were some lighting issues at the beginning of the show that were a little bit distracting, but once fixed the rest of the show was fine. The Lighting Designer was Eldorado Vance. There were a few line issues, which were distracting as characters were addressed by other’s names. Nuts does include graphic langauge and adult themes.


  • Officer Haggerty: Bob Scott
  • Court Recorder: Krista Barnette
  • Franklin MacMillan, The Prosecutor: Donnell Boykin
  • Aaron Levinsky, For the Defense: Jeff Murray
  • Dr. Herbert Rosenthal: Mario Font
  • Arthur Kirk: David James
  • Rose Kirk: Kate Blackburn
  • Judge Murdoch: Paul Boymel
  • Claudia Faith Draper, the Defendant: Karen Jadlos Shotts


  • Producer and Director: Donald Neal
  • Set Design and Set Dressing: Donald Neal
  • Lighting Design: Eldorado Vance
  • Costume Coordination: Farrell Hartigan
  • Properties: Provided by Cast
  • Playbil: Donna Reynolds
  • Publicity: Jacqueline Mathis
  • Box Office/Ushers: Joan Silver and our Wonderful Volunteers

Disclaimer: Port City Playhouse provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre for over 40 years in the local Washington DC Metro area as well as NYC and London England. Mark has performed at the Dramatist Guild Theatre on Broadway, at The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre Off-Broadway. His credits include work in many local theatres as well: The Folger Theatre Group, Arena Stage, New Playwrights Theatre, 7th Street Players, The Keegan Theatre, The American Century Theatre, The Journeyman Theatre, ASTA Theatre, The Hayloft Dinner Theatre (Associate Producer), The Lazy Susan Theatre, Discovery Channels, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (Frankenstein) with Donald Sutherland. London, England credits include work at: The Duke of York Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, The Questors Theatre, The British Embassy Players. Mark is a graduate of The Drama Studio, London, England. Mark is also a narrator of audio books for Gildan Audio: “True North”, by Bill George; “Never Give Up”, by Tedy Bruschi and “Five Minds for the Future”, by Howard Gardner among them. Mark currently teaches Advanced Acting at The Little Theatre of Alexandria and still performs locally in many theatres.

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