Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The last show of Theatre Works season is the 1948 Tony award winning play "Mister Roberts". The auditorium is decorted like a USO hall and has memoriabilia from that era. The show is a rowdy realistic saga of a group of American sailors on a cargo ship in the Pacific in 1945 right before V-E day until a few weeks before V-J day. The captain of the ship is a mean spirited horror of a man whom the men consider their enemy. Lt. Roberts shares their dislike of the man and is popular with the crew. This play shows the relationship between Mr. Roberts and his fellow crew members leading to laughter and tears during the course of this meaningful play.
Director Mark Silberstein leads his 12 member cast splendidly through the two acts. The excellent set is a huge two story cargo ship designed by Tom Norton, modified by Fred Fortier to fit the playing space and constructed by Norman Tremblay. The ship and stateroom are very realistic and utilized very well during the night. Mark has the the performers make use of the whole playing areas. His direction in the group scenes is outstandingand he makes the intimate moments stand out, too. The use of period music and newscasts of the current events of the day is also very well done. Great job on a very difficult show to do.
Richard Concannon plays the well liked Mr. Roberts superbly. He shows the depth of the character who wants to be involved in the actual fighting of the war and not stuck on a cargo ship. Richard shows Robert's torment when he gives the evil captain his word to keep quiet about their agreement about the men going on leave. The captain wants to take credit for it. Richard has many sparkling moments both funny and poignant with Doc, Pulver and all the sailors. Good job in this demanding role. Bert Cayer plays Doc who is Mr. Roberts confidante. He has many funny scenes in the stateroom but the standout scene is when he mixes various ingredients including coke, hair tonic and iodine to alchol to make scotch. Bert interacts well with Richard and the other shipmates making a beliveable doctor and friend to all. The funniest character in the show is Ensign Pulver played by Alfred Fortier III. He has some of the funniest scenes including the pulling up of the palm tree as a tribute to Mr. Roberts, the attempted seduction of a nurse and the firecracker that blows up the laundry area when he enters in his underwear covered with soapsuds. Fred is as brilliant in a dramatic role as in a comic one especially when he reads the letter from his friend about what happens to Mr. Roberts on the destroyer. He shows the growth of the callow boy who turns into a man at show's end. Another wonderful performance is given by Ronald Mutton as the Captain. This is a man the audience comes to despise. Ron makes him such a callous unfeeling brute that the audience cheers when he is taken ill in his cabin. A very nice man in real life, Ron captures the true villian like character perfectly making you want to boo and hiss the evil Captain.
The sailors do a wonderful job in their portrayals, too. Moe Cournoyer as Dowdy is the leader of the men shouting at them to get to work when they slack off. Jason Begin as Dolan, Robert's letter deliverer does a great job showing his anger at being unfairly treated and shows a comic side when he steals the Admiral's goat while on leave. (He reads the tag on the goat while drunk and dozes off a couple of times, snoring loudly while standing upright.) Michael Harrison as Insigna and Peter Fournier as Mannion played the constantly arguing sailors who finally become friends at the end of the night. (Michael towers over Peter making the argument scenes hilarious.) Ahmed Bharoocha as Stefanowski and Ryan Latour as Lindstrom round out the horny bunch of sailors. The drunken and the hangover scenes are very effective and all the guys do a good job in it.
Rounding out the cast is Erin O'Donnell DeArauja as Lt. Ann Girard who is the object of Pulver's desire (she plays her very strongly and capable of handling the wily Ensign) and Gerry Lebreque as the military policeman who spoils the fun of the men on leave by reporting them to the captain. So for a great night of entertainment go see "Mr. Roberts", it will make you laugh and make you cry doing it's work wonderfully.