note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Will Stackman
Janet Kenney’s cycle of short “ten minute” plays orbiting around Jack and Andrea’s wedding provides a broad look at the family behind the occasion, but only hints at the depths of their lives. As a result, “More Than What” is long on what --- divorce, approaching death, grieving, mourning, and of course relationships --— and rather lessthan more on any epiphanies for its characters. Thus the show doesn’t really get anywhere --— the marriage isn’t ever likely to be in danger -—-- but rather seems like a sequence in some daytime drama.
Fortunately, the dialogue is effective and a skilled cast of local actors is quite up to fleshing out these ordinary people. Ellen Adair, who’s been busy the last few seasons, is Andrea the bride and forms a solid and sympathetic center that almost binds the piece together. Mike Dorval’s Jack almost deserves her; his qualities shine through in a seen with his widowed younger sister. His divorced parents, Jack and Ruth, are handled like pros by Jeff Gill and Donna Sorbello. Gill is jokey, but still affectionate, while Sorbello, whose character is dying of cancer, projects dignity. The interlude between Ruth and Andrea is the emotional center of the show. Harold Withee is Andrea’s Uncle Bob, who’ll be walking her down the aisle in place of her deceased father, and then gets to do his Satchmo iimpression at the wedding supper. Andrea’s younger sister, Melody, is tartly played by Sarah Augusta, while Nicki Carroll, from Australia, is her best friend Eve. Christine Power plays Stephie, Jack’s sister. All three of these supporting characters are well fleshed out but only Melody is really intergrated in the action.
Centastage has made its mark giving fully-mounted productions of works in development, and “More Than What” shows real promise. Costumes are appropriate and functional; the set pieces could be more easily changed but add nice touches. It’s quite entertaining as it stands. But to become fully dramatic, discoveries and implications from each seperate piece need to be woven into the whole and some sort of dramatic tension needs be found, to create an arc so the action can have a real ending. Somebody or something has to change.