Spooky Action Theater, a new company performing its first season in the Mead Theatre Lab, sets forth on a mission to “resonate with the audience so that a connection is felt long after leaving the theatre”. The question is, in order to feel that connection do I need to care about the characters, even one of them?
The answer is yes of course, and that is the problem I have with Spooky Action’s first production Save the Leopard. The plot is a self described “When Harry Meets Sally” story in which an idealistic but going no where fellow meets a self centered and going to the top young woman at a chain bookstore. Before you know it they are partners in a good cause to save leopards around the world but a wonderful cause does not ensure a wonderful production and Spooky Action Theater’s premiere confirms the argument.
Leo (Seth Alcorn) is just looking for a job, he has one, going door to door collecting money for a wildlife charity. Diana (Alison Weisgall) is just looking to get ahead by any means possible. As the story progresses Leo, we discover, will do anything to save a leopard but has no use for his wife or child. Diana on the other hand will do anything to climb the corporate ladder also at the expense of her family. Without a likeable character we lose interest in both the leopards and this maiden production.
Mr. Alcorn and Ms. Weisgall give semi-believable performances as our two saviors of the planet. The performances are energetic and the lines are delivered with feeling – it is the high energy level that keeps the production from being a total failure. Costumes were a hit and miss – Leo looked the part of the eco-warrior but Diana did not look the part of the corporate fundraiser. Even though staging was minimal I wished for a bit of green in the visual design to match the jungle soundscape.
I am sure Spooky Action Theater will make use of the energy exhibited in this production to ensure it’s next effort fulfills it’s mission to “articulate and sharpen the imaginative collaboration between audience and actors that produces Spooky Action.
Save the Leopard by TJ Edwards . Directed by Richard Henrich – Featuring Seth Alcorn and Alison Weisgall . Produced by Spooky Action Theater.