Theatre Mirror Reviews - "SubUrbia"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at the URI Theatre is the heavy duty drama, "SubUrbia". The play takes place in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store. It deals with the disillusionment of 7 people in their twenties. They talk, drink, smoke and tangle with the two owners of the store. The strong, risque language of the characters and the emotional ending of the show are proof of excellent ensemble acting under an expert director. The American dream falls apart and becomes a nightmare.

31 year old, director, Anthony Estrella gets the most out of his actors with his blocking and in their line deliveries. He has them utilize the roof of the store, the parking lot, a real van on stage and every bit of the playing area to keep the interest of the audience. Anthony uses this tension and dramatic buildup throughout and it delivers the powerful and tragic conclusion anticipated all night long. He is aided by a fine technical crew with the 7-Eleven set designed by William P. Wieters as one of the best and most authentic ones around.

The acting ensemble of college students is astounding especially considering the heaviness of the material in the script. The hero of this piece is the dreamer, Jeff, played superbly by Seth Stephen Allen. Jeff is a perpetual college student who knows what is wrong with the world but doesn't know wht he wants to do with his life. He grows up quickly during the course of the show and eventually finds a way to be free. This is symbolized by his removing all his clothes but his freedom is thwarted by the final tragedy. Seth commands the stage with his dynamic speaking voice and wonderful stage presence. He envokes the sympathy his character deserves. Bravo on a job well done. The villian is Jeff's friend, Tim who is a bigot and former airforce pilot. Tim is an alcholic who drinks 24 hours a day. He shows little regard for his friends and is an unlikeable bully. Sean Michael McCanaghy breathes fire and venom into Tim. His portrayal is very believeable and frightening. Sean is only a sophmore at URI but he has proven he can handle a gamut of emotions and a variety of roles including Zach in "A Chorus Line" and Antonio in "Twelfth Night". The role of Tim is another feather in his cap.

Other roles include their druggie friend, Buff is played by Thomas Reedy. He's the crazy, friend who is always laughing and constantly humping of poles and anything else he can get his hands on. Thomas helps to lighten the drama from getting too heavy. Pamela Kristine Calci is Bee Bee, one of Buff's conquests. She works in a hospital and has gone through re-hab and takes things one day at a time. Pamela delivers the goods in this pivotal role and the "fornication" scene in the bouncing, parked van on stage is hilarious Another conquest, Erica is the publicist for their rock star, friend, Pony. Betsy Eyring makes this wealthy aloof girl come to life and enjoy her fling with Buff. Jeff's flaky girlfriend, Sooze is played by Sarah Autumn Feeley. Her performance piece with milk squirting fake boobs is her introduction in the show and is a hoot. She also has some powerful scenes with the others especially Seth Allen, Sean and Seth M. Remington who plays Pony. The character of Pony gets to sing as well as act in the show. Seth shows off his rock voice in two numbers and handles his acting scenes well, too. (The original show music by David Tessier fit the show like a glove.)

Last but not least are the two talented actors who play the owners of the store, Marc Pelina as Norman and Ratkanhnka Siv as Pakeeza. Although they are both inside the true to life 7-Eleven store alot, when they enter the parking lot they both provide the impetus to move the emotions of the crowd along. Marc has more dialogue and he delivers with a perfect Indian accent. One of the messages of the show comes through by showing how cruelty to people from other countries should be stopped and a better understanding should be implimented by all parties concerned. A powerful and poignant message for today's troubled world is found in "SubUrbia" and is delivered by 9 talented college students at URI.

"SubUrbia" (till 2 March)
Fine Arts Center, Upper College Road, University of Rhode Island, KINGSTON, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide