Sunday, December 27, 2009

Florida Stage: The Storytelling Ability of a Boy (9 reviews)

NEWS: THE STORYTELLING ABILITY OF A BOYFlorida Stage opened its production of The Storytelling Ability of a Boy,by Carter W. Lewis, on December 11, 2009.
Love gets dangerous when a young English teacher gets involved in the personal lives of two of her students, a strange boy with a gift for writing and a brooding young girl with a nail gun. Darkly funny and deeply moving.
Louis Tyrell directs a cast that includes Laura Carbonell, Bethany Anne Lind, and Marshall Pailet.

Ron Levitt reviewed for ENVMagazine:
...this play – as stimulating as it is mentally — is especially notable because of the acting skills of the three performers. And, one will find it difficult not to laud the acting prowess of this trio in making this production so intriguing.
Carbonell is realistic as the teacher trying to nurture her talented nerdy, teenage student. Pailet – as the student with a gift of storytelling well beyond his age and experience — is totally believable in a stunning acting rendition, and the charming Lind – whether mouthing foul-mouthed four-letter words or expressing doubts about her sexuality – uses Carter’s colorful script and language skills to emerge as a star with a bright future on stage. All three are credible New York-based actors who are leaving an indelible mark on South Florida theatre.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin'
Laura Carbonell as Caitlin is quiet believable in her portrayal of the conflict with which her character struggles.
Carter W. Lewis is lucky to have Bethany Anne Lind as Dora... Anne possesses good dramatic timing and an intelligent understanding of the role. She and Marshall Pailet as Peck laudably handle their dialogue as the smoothest of banter. Pailet displays strong character acting skills as he transforms himself into the tormented Peck.
Michael Martin reviewed for
Florida Stage greets the holiday season with an amazingly crafted piece by playwright Carter W. Lewis...
Youthful Pailet, with already three Broadway credits to his name, outstandingly handles Peck’s delicate balance between storyteller and real person. The actor expertly brings to light the internal struggles of boy who hails from a dysfunctional past, and who in turn has trouble fitting into a functional society.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for
Unfortunately, just as the relationships really start to get interesting about two-thirds of the way through the one-act play, Lewis seems to get carried away with himself, sending his carefully crafted—and plenty complicated—drama teetering on the absurd, going from “Dr. Phil” confessions to “Jerry Springer” knock-down.
Fortunately, the strong cast, under the direction of Louis Tyrell, saves Lewis from himself. Pailet is brilliant as Peck, moving seamlessly from storyteller to character, and carefully balancing the teen’s intellectual genius with his untested adult impulses. Lind’s Dora is angry at the world, but she manages to convey a genuine sense of vulnerability at the same time. Any young abuse victim dealing with sexual orientation issues would undoubtedly be a complicated person, but Lind makes her real...
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Lind and Pailet pile masks on top of masks, lowering the temperature in the theater by successive degrees of feigned cool. But from beneath the weight of Peck and Dora's artifice, the actors clearly broadcast the pair's terrible neediness — Peck's through droll fatalism ... and Dora's through anger.
The anthropology at work here is fascinating. Peck, a writer, is showing off his verbal facility in the hopes of impressing Dora. Dora's exaggerated hip-thrusting and back-arching is an attempt to impress Peck with her sexual sophistication. And by being so interested in Pavarotti, they are showing off their cultural literacy, which distinguishes them from their tormentors.
That the actors are working on every one of these levels is miraculous. If the writing had stayed so smart throughout the play, there's really no limit to how good Storytelling could have been. Unfortunately, Storytelling has a third character — Caitlin, the English teacher
We knew there might be trouble earlier, when, inviting Peck for some private instruction at her home, she barely bats an eye when Dora whips out a bottle of Jack Daniels and, within minutes, is sharing shots. This corruptor of minors is actually supposed to be the hero of the story...
The particulars of all of this require us to suspend so much disbelief about the realities of teacher-student relationships — and, among other things, about the moral implications of slurping back bourbon with one's emotionally deranged 17-year-old pupils — that we ultimately think our hero-cum-narrator is either a creep or a criminal, depending upon your tolerance for gross unprofessionalism.
But we came here for drama and all that that implies: burrowing into the guts of the human condition and seeing what lives there and why. Tickets to Florida Stage are $45 to $48, and I'd pay a good deal more than that to see the look on Dora's face when she decides to drop the bullshit and make love to Peck. Even she can't tell if she's doing it out of mercy, desire, or loneliness, and you can read all three in Lind's lovely face. Who cares if the exercise ends awkwardly? Merely to begin was more audacious than most grownups will ever be again.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
Violent events do occur, but they do not dominate the play as much as they are interwoven with Peck’s storytelling. If you start wondering what is real, what is imagination and whose story the play is anyway, Lewis is likely to be pleased.

He has to be pleased with the three young actors — all making their Florida Stage debuts — who inhabit his script, under Louis Tyrrell’s deft direction. As Peck, Marshall Pailet strikes the right chord of nerdy geekiness, but when he starts reciting one of his stories, aided by sound engineer Matt Kelly’s aural effects, he is completely in command.

Bethany Anne Lind (Dora) handles much of the potty language, but underneath her simmering anger, she lets us see the girl who is so desperate to be loved. As teacher Caitlin, Laura Carbonell probably has the toughest assignment, for the role is sketchily written. Even after she reveals her past in a monologue of emotional turmoil, we still want to know more.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
Occasionally, a play comes along that combines daring structure with compelling characters, gorgeous language, wit and a riveting story. The Storytelling Ability of a Boy is such a play
In this tautly directed and dazzlingly performed production, Lewis shows himself to be a playwright in his prime.
Marshall Pailet masterfully performs the waterfalls of performance poetry that pour from Peck — essential if the play is to cast its spell. Bethany Anne Lind burns brightly as Dora. Laura Carbonell's sylphlike Caitlin is intensely human as she struggles to retain a precarious control.
Bill Hirschman, as it should be, reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel:
...Storytelling goes far beyond and beneath some ripped-from-the-headlines tale. Lewis has created teens so bright, quick-witted and articulate that it frightens you to see such intelligence unimpeded by maturity and aggravated by profound emotional trauma.
Under Louis Tyrrell's sensitive direction, it's an unabashedly theatrical evening...
Carbonell provides a solid incarnation, but it's not an electric performance. Since her character is an equal partner in this triangle and our surrogate/guide, that robs the play of a driving force and makes us wonder erroneously why the boy is not clearly the solo focus.

Pailet delivers Lewis' gloriously profligate language with a seamless ease and makes his quirky, tortured soul totally believable rather than melodramatic or contrived.

But it's Lind who soars. She makes the most of Lewis' complex heroine, a foul-mouthed truth teller who prods and pokes at the wounds she perceives with a preternatural power of observations. She will stay with you long after the house lights come up.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Lewis, Tyrrell and the fine cast deliver an intellectually and emotionally engaging drama with just-right shadings of humor...
Lind, Carbonell and Pailet, who's terrific as he delves into that cauldron of thought and emotion that is the high school male, all deliver compelling performances (though you can't help thinking about excellent South Florida-based actors who might have been just as persuasive in creating these roles).
In staging the premiere of The Storytelling Ability of a Boy, Tyrrell is giving his audiences the first look at a provocative play that's likely to find a life beyond South Florida.
The Story Telling Ability of a Boy plays at Florida Stage through January 17, 2010.


  1. I love how she threw in the line about South Florida actors. Thanks Christine. But I must say there is something so amazing about having an actor from NYC grace our stages for master classes in acting. I wish all theatres down here would do more of that cuz God knows we all need it!

  2. Isn't one of them from Atlanta?


  4. uh.. what are you talking about anonymous #1?? Grace our stage?? I happen to find most NYC actor to be rather over trained and rigid on stage... Not to say that these actors at Florida Stage that way as i have not seen the show, but keep in mind a 212 area code does not an actor make. Not to mention most WORKING south Florida actors spent time living in NYC and came here to work consistently as there is virtually no work to be had in NYC due to the overwhelming amount of actors...and also .. what is it exactly that you think "we need"?

  5. CLJ? Youre approving blog comment entries now? WTF? (Ironically my word verification happens to be 'WRONG') lol

  6. As a New York trained actor myself, I can see both sides of this argument; the point the commenter was making wasn't "they are better actors" but "they are better at leading a workshop," and I agree with that. There aren't that many acting workshops for the working actor down here, at least not many aimed at theatre. On any given day in NYC, there are hundreds of workshops going on, so anyone coming down from that environment is likely to be more experienced at it than someone based down here.

    And I am temporarily moderating comments, due to some abusive comments last week.

  7. Yikes. I was being sarcastic you guys. Jesus. Sorry to spur this comment thread. There is no difference in the level of talent between NYC and MIA and LA...its just a numbers game. And I have not seen the Florida Stage Show so I was not attacking the actors in the show. And by "master class" I meant the lessons we would "get" from watching the NYC talent takin our jobs! Thanks and good night!

  8. Anon#1 i must have misread the post.. missed the sarcasm... as far as taking? I would say they (the theatres casting NYC) give them I believe we would have better workshops down here, CLJ, if there was a sufficient market for that here... not enough actors to take the workshops

    mod and post.