Local playwright Patrick Flynn has spent the last two years developing his new comedy about growing up and proving how“adults can be idiots, just like children.” Sheila and Moby receives its world premiere in an intriguing and entertaining production by Flying V Theatre, whose motto: ‘Be Awesome’ could have been the rallying cry for young Sheila.
When Sheila (Madeline Key) was growing up, she and her stuffed animal (an Iberian Lynx named Moby) made colorful partners as the child adopted various personas for their adventures (e.g., Captain Excelsior for intrepid space travel). Cartoon fans might find their adventuring not unlike that of Calvin and Hobbes in the great and sadly departed comic strip.
Now a 31 year-old financial planner, Sheila returns home for a visit after winning a big promotion when Courtney (Cassie Cope), a child from the neighborhood, seeks to retain her to find Plato, a missing Koala bear Courtney is convinced was kidnapped. It seems Courtney has chanced on one of Sheila’s former identities as Sam Speedometer, Private Eye.
Helping the girl is a welcome respite from Sheila’s bank job where she spends most of her time crushing the dreams of their customers. So she digs up Moby (Robyn Rikoon) from an attic trunk and takes on the case. It offers her a chance to reconnect with childhood friend Jason (Tim German), Courtney’s overprotective father and a stay-at-home parent, now in a troubled marriage to Quinn (Megan Reichelt).
As with many of us, when Sheila stored Moby away and buckled down to an adult life, she left the best and most colorful part of her behind, as we learn from Sheila’s parents (Kathleen Akerley and Nigel Reed), and local townspeople, including former childhood bully turned insurance agent Curley (Farrell Parker).
Parenting issues naturally arise as Sheila and Courtney spend more time together: to what extent should the lonely child’s fantasies be indulged and how might Sheila’s involvement affect Courtney’s parents? Yet Sheila feels a commitment to Courtney and to her own voyage of self-discovery.
Sheila and Moby
closes November 18, 2018
Details and tickets
The challenges of growing up are never easy. That’s true for a child who’s lost a stuffed animal (Courtney), a business woman who’s lost her sense of joy (Sheila), a former bully trying to change her life (Curley), a couple who are fighting financial challenges while raising a child (Jason and Quinn), or older parents dealing with retirement and empty nest syndrome (Sheila’s Mom and Dad).
Despite the adult’s issues, fun abounds in Sheila and Moby, especially when Sheila, Moby, and Courtney are engaged in playful adventuring amidst the wonderfully cluttered and versatile set. Director Courtney Laine Self’s talent for choreography is apparent here, as well as in some innovative group movement sequences between scenes.
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Patrick Flynn’s script is consistently funny, providing clever dialogue with tongue planted firmly in cheek, and aimed at adults as illustrated by modern references (Uber, Keurig coffee makers, Montessori schools, and Mad Men’s Don Draper) and adult language (f-bombs and gd’s).
Unfortunately, the play can get a little redundant. While it’s easy to see how Flynn loved writing the clever scenes, some of the jokes and the more serious messages about facing their difficult futures ahead are visited a little more often than necessary.
The cast has a wonderful time with the show. Kathleen Akerley and Nigel Reed bring a relaxed and convincing realism to the role of Sheila’s parents, 18 year-old Cassie Cope does an excellent job giving Courtney an uncommon yet truthful depth as a child, and Robyn Rikoon’s Moby is a consistent joy.
So often serious adult topics such as we see here, are approached in a heavy, dramatic way. Patrick Flynn has the writing chops of a clever, adroit playwright. Combined with Flying V Theatre’s production, Sheila and Moby will provide an abundance of laughs, and a more than a few lingering afterthoughts of life’s complications.
Sheila and Moby by Patrick Flynn. Directed by Courtney Laine Self. Featuring Kathleen Akerley, Cassie Cope, Tim German, Madeline Key, Farrell Parker, Megan Reichelt, Robyn Rikoon, and Nigel Reed. Costume Designer: Paris Francesca. Lighting Designer: Kristin A. Thompson. Master Carpenter: Greg Condon. Master Electrician: Elliot Shugoll. Properties Designer: Kasey Hendricks. Scenic Charge: Jacob Cordell. Scenic Designer: Stephen M. Cyr. Sound Design & Original Compositions: Neil McFadden. Technical Director: Ryan Love. Production Manager: Sarah Conte. Assistant Production Manager: Navid Azeez. Stage Manager: Leigh Robinette. Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Nesbit. Produced by Flying V Theatre. Reviewed by Steven McKnight.
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