OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company Young TurgBy Michael Clark • Jun 21st, 2011 • Category: Reviews
OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company
Greenbelt Community Arts Center, Greenbet, MD
Through July 3rd
2:15 with one intermission
Reviewed June 17th, 2011
Dramaturg (also dramaturge): “a literary editor on the staff of a theater who consults with authors and edits texts.” John Morogiello’s Young Turg is the story of a naïve college graduate growing up with the help of a regional theatre’s cynical dramaturg, its ambitious manager and an established playwright. Young Turg had its shining moments, and made a few good zingers at the target of theatre. And you have to appreciate a playwright who is willing to aim a zinger at himself, by name.
Caity Brown was successful portraying Heidi Bishop’s growth from innocence to strength, although with Bishop wasn’t as likeable at the end of the play. There was also one decision Bishop made near the middle of the play that was a surprise and seemed out of character. Eric Henry as the disillusioned dramaturg was a bit too gruff at the beginning of the play, but by the end he was able to make the audience like him. A few of his bits weren’t quite clear, such as his obsession with day-old coffee, or smoking the wrong end of a cigarette. His resignation to his fate was tender, allowing us to see through the facade of his loneliness. Brown and Henry had a nice chemistry which did seem to grow throughout the performance. Sandra Cox True as Tina Fike was convincing as the bored playwright. She had seen it all, accolades meant nothing to her, and True caused us to think about what it means to be at the end of a succesful career, even if we don’t think the career should be over quite yet.
John Braschi, the manager of the theater, was played indecisively by Ryan Willis. At times, Braschi was a leader, with a focus on his career goals, while at other times he was distracted by Heidi. This may be a problem in the script. For example, there were a few lines early in the play that would have been quite appropriately delivered as double entendres (John and Heidi talking about a job in the dramaturg’s office, John says “Hold me any way you want.”) By doing those lines as straight lines, it made Braschi appear weak. But later, Braschi explains that he’s never done anything that could be misconstrued as sexual harassment, so perhaps director (and ShowBizRadio reviewer) Betsy Marks Delaney felt he couldn’t do those scenes with a sexual undertone.
One problem with the production was the set, by Betsy Marks Delaney and Eric Henry. The Greenbelt Arts Center was setup as a thrust stage. Due to problems with the air conditioning system, the center seating area was reduced to only two rows deep, while the two side seating areas were many rows. The playing area was marked off with two desks, a sofa and many boxes of scripts piled along what would have been the dramaturg’s office walls. The sofa was placed directly in front of the main seating area, resulting in several extended scenes where the actors were sitting on the sofa with their backs to the main seating area. It would have been more effective had the entire set been rotated 180 degrees. Perhaps even the two rows of seats in the center section could have been removed entirely?
In sum, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes at a theater company, Young Turg is one possibility. The cynicism is quite possible, while the drama of the personal relationships could be at any organization.
On April 21, 2009, I went to the Georgetown to review an intriguing and remarkable production of Bette Cassatt’s The Three Musketeers, a scant one-hour of frenetic costume changes, swordplay and witty repartee produced by the Georgetown Theatre Company.
While there, I had a brief conversation with Catherine Aselford, the company’s Artistic Director, about my own company’s focus on theatre about theatre. She introduced me to John Morogiello, who had this play I just had to read.
Just shy of two years after our brief meeting took place, we launched into the process of bringing Young Turg to the GAC stage. This play is so true to life that it won’t matter to you whether you’ve ever worked in theatre; if you’ve ever had to deal with office politics (and who hasn’t) you will recognize these characters.
This funny, insightful play about the battle between ambition and artistic expression could not have been brought to the stage without the four fabulous and talented actors on stage or the efforts of a variety of artists behind the scenes who have contributed to this work. It’s been a blast working with you!
Special thanks to the Greenbelt Arts Center and its accumulation of props and paperwork, decorating my own office as GAC’s General Manager. I didn’t have to look far to find what I needed to dress this set.
Thanks also go to John for having faith that we could pull this off. This show is dedicated to all the playwright’s who have ever submitted their work on blind faith in the hope their plays might be produced someday.
If you enjoyed this performance, tell your friends! If not, thanks for coming anyway!
– Betsy Marks Delaney
- Heidi Bishop: Caity Brown
- Jim Foley: Eric Henry
- Tina Fike: Sandra ox True
- John Braschi: Ryan Willis
- Director/Producer: Betsy Marks Delaney
- Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Ben Lighter
- Lighting Designer: Den Giblin
- Light Board Operator: Scott Candey
- Sound Designer: Scott R. Bloom
- Sound Operator: Trix Whitehall
- Set Design/Painting: Betsy Marks Delaney & Eric Henry
- Props/Set Dressing: Bill Jones & GAC
- Costume Design: Betsy Marks Delaney & Linda Swann
- Archival Videography, Publications/Logo Design: Betsy Marks Delaney
- Photography: Rachel Duda
Disclaimer: OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review. OOBB also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review. And the director of this production is a reviewer for ShowBizRadio.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6952.