2nd Story Theatre's summer show is "Nuts", a courtroom melodrama. It's not your father's courtroom drama: a high-price call girl, having killed a 'john' in self-defense, is indicted for manslaughter. But when her parents try to avoid further scandal by having her declared mentally incompetent, the determined hooker launches a bare-knuckled, take-no-prisoners battle to convince the court she's sane enough to stand trial. The show is about Claudia Faith Draper who has been arrested for manslaughter and is being held in NY's Bellevue Hospital. The State wants to declare her mentally incompetent to stand trial but Claudia fights the charges and with the help of her court appointed attorney, fights the system. Director Mark Peckham takes this show and infuses it with some intense dramatic moments that will keep you on the edge of your seats and rooting for Claudia to triumph over all odds.
Mark blocks the show beautifully, utilizing the whole playing area of the courthouse and gives his cast the keen insight to portray their characters. His is aided in his task by youthful stage manager, Evan Kinnane who is a topnotch actor, too. Amber Kelly delivers a tour de force performance as Claudia. She runs the gamut of emotions in this role. Claudia is at first, an unlikable woman, but using her talent she sways the audience to root for her by the close of the show. Amber is an excellent actress who portrays the inner torment of this woman. Claudia's arguing with her shrink, her break down during her stepfather's testimony and her reconciliation with her mother are her standout moments for her.
Kevin Brocolli plays the defense attorney, Aaron Levinsky beautifully. He grows to like this aggressive woman and helps her to overcome the obstacles placed in her pathway. Kevin is a talented actor who delivers his huge amounts of dialogue with ease. His adversary, Francis MacMillian is played by Vince Petronio. He does a great job delivering his massive amount of dialogue. One his standout moments occurs when the lawyer forces Claudia to explain her business practices and when he can't get a word in edgewise with the stepfather running rough shod over him. Walter Cotter plays the exasperated, Judge Murdock who must decide Claudia's fate. He handles this authority figure very well and keeps things going smoothly in his courtroom. The villain of this piece is the conceited all know shrink, Dr. Rosenthal, played by Paula Faber. Although you think the doctor knows best, it might not be so in this show. The shrink's ego outweighs her fairness to Claudia and she wants to keep her sedated at all times. The character is a narrow minded woman who can't believe a white, middle class woman can be a prostitute. She displays the right amount of venom to make the audience see that she really doesn't care about his patient at all. Another veteran performer is Lynne Collison who plays her mother, Rose Kirk, delivering an electrifying performance. You first see her as a dour severe woman, sitting in the courtroom but she delivers the goods in a stunning confrontation with her daughter in Act 1 where she displays 31 returned letters and you learn throughout the proceedings that she really cares about her daughter and when Claudia finally hugs her near the end of the show, the whole audience is moved to tears at this poignant moment. Rounding out the cast are Eric Behr as the kindly but devious stepfather, Arthur Kirk, who delivers a stunning monologue in Act 1 that shocks the audience, John Connery as Harry, the cop and Liz Hallenbeck as the recorder. So for intriguing and insightful look at courtroom proceedings with some heavy and funny twists and turns along the way be sure to catch, "Nuts" in Bristol.