Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Theatre: In Development (2 reviews)

New Theatre's world premiere production of David Caudle's In Development opened on October 9, 2009.
In this new dark comedy, sex, death and dramaturgy take the stage when renowned, aging playwright Gideon Flynn mentors a fresh crop of young hopefuls at a summer conference. The previous year, his feedback had dire consequences for a troubled student, and now lightning seems poised to strike twice.
Ricky J. Martinez directed a cast that included Bill Schwartz, Ricardo Rodriguez, Aubrey Shavonn, Mark Della Venture, and Skye Whitcomb.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
David Caudle's In Development is a slight play wrestling with big issues.
Wild-haired, half-drunk, noticeably seedy, spitting vitriol at his pupils' efforts before their plays are half-heard, he is completely undone; he could be channeling Johnny Depp in the last hour of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Deliciously overacted by Schwartz — a well-known former Miami Police spokesman — he is full of energy but curiously devoid of vitality.
In Development hemorrhages mojo because of an oft-indifferent performance by Ricardo Rodriguez as the hunky young wordsmith with daddy issues, and from a ridiculous turn by Aubrey Shavonn as the temptress-turned-blackmailer, Donna.
In Development is a brand-new play, and I have high hopes for that first act. It can be salvaged if In Development remains in development just a little longer, and if Caudle can take to heart Gideon Flynn's best, and most frequently repeated, bit of advice: Stop with the gimmickry. Tell the audience the truth.
Christin Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
One of the great dramaturgical cheats is explaining away a piece's illogic -- or incoherence -- by revealing that everything an audience has just seen was actually a dream or some other flight of fancy.

...if the play, which is getting its world premiere at Coral Gables' New Theatre, were fascinating, funny, intriguing or enlightening up to that point, we might forgive the oh-never-mind cop-out. But it is none of those things.
Director Ricky J. Martinez and a game cast try to serve Caudle's crazy tale, which comes complete with a ``theater ghost'' named Patrick (Skye Whitcomb), a former Flynn student who apparently committed suicide (or not) after being outed by his plastered teacher. Aubrey Shavonn is the tough Donna, who tries to beat Gideon at his own game, and Mark Della Ventura gives a grounded, funny performance as a student whose name is apparently not important enough for the self-involved Gideon to remember.
...though Schwartz commits with gusto to every word and deed that Caudle has given Gideon, not even a reincarnated Laurence Olivier could make sense of the ill-conceived In Development.
The world premier of David Caudle's In Development plays at New Theatre through November 8, 2009.

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