Recent Tragic Events
Produced by Indian Head Center for the Arts
By: Ronnie Ruff
I am reminded once in a while just how important the role of director is in any play no matter how great the acting talents or how wonderful the playwright and script. How many times have I been looking forward to a particular actor’s performance or a new play that really peaks my interest only to come away disappointed by the way the show is directed? The director has the power to make a less than stellar actor shine or take a rather dull play and make it enjoyable. Now don’t get me wrong, the production is still only as good as its weakest link and the direction is the weakest link of Recent Tragic Events currently mounted at The Indian Head Center For The Arts in Indian Head, Md.
I do not get out to Indian Head much and I was looking forward to a very timely show by the Nobleheart Rep Co and artistic director Craig Hower. The company has brought in notable NY director and acting coach Spider Duncan Christopher to direct this story of four everyday people and a famous writer who are dealing with the 9-11 events in the best way they can. Recent Tragic Events written by Craig Wright is a Seinfeldian comedy with a lot of philosophy to ponder. A blind date between an airport bookstore manager and a young professional woman who are introduced by a mutual acquaintance just happens to take place the day after 9-11. Throw into the mix an all too talkative neighbor and his “say little” girlfriend plus, yes, you read it right, a sock puppet playing Joyce Carroll Oates. It has all the makings of a pretty good comedy but……. It is the comedy that takes a dive in this production and the reason is the pacing of the play. For some reason the director sees fit to slow the pace of the play to the point that one anticipates every line and action. I found myself nodding my head and thinking “ok already, I got it, what’s next?”
The performances in Recent Tragic Events are quite good at times. Katherine Prout as Waverly is a young professional meeting a blind date at her home. She is well cast and quite entertaining but lacked the depth to pull off some of the more emotional scenes during the show. Mike Mortensen was great as the quirky, self deprecating Andrew who becomes an almost Drew Carey like character. John Hamilton as Ron steals the show. He is funny and abrasive, the crazy guy next door. Sonia Motlagh as Nancy, Ron’s girlfriend, portrays a funny iconic, amazonian sex kitten who also doubles as the sock puppet. Jody Mueller as the stage manager tries to pull off a confusing rather “game show” gimmick with the plot to keep the audience engaged in the first act to little avail.
Much can be said about the stage design in this production, the attention to detail was excellent and I was impressed with the directors full use of the space in the show. NobleHeart has come a long way since I last attended one of their productions in that respect.
In summation I feel that minus the director’s decision to slow the pace, this show could have been a big success for this small theatre company. The decision in itself becomes the tragic event that ruins the comic flow and renders some pretty great efforts a moot point. I do hope that the positive elements are built on in future productions because they are truly significant steps forward.
Recent Tragic Events. Black Box Theatre, Indian Head Center for the Arts, 4185 Indian Head Hwy, Indian Head, MD. Sept 8 – Oct 8.
Tickets: $18. 301 743-3040 or website