Friday, April 30, 2010

Rising Action Theatre: The Sum Of Us (2 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened its production of The Sum Of Us on April 22, 2010.
A hit Off-Broadway and later a film starring Russell Crowe, this play by gifted Australian writer David Stevens explores the volatile relationship between an aging widower and his gay son. After meeting in a local pub, Jeff and a young gardener, Greg, hit it off and begin to date. When he meets Jeff's stubborn, opinionated Dad however, Greg begins to back off. Meanwhile Dad too has a new flame: a woman he met through a dating service. Put off by Jeff's homosexuality, prosaic Joyce too pulls away.
Stephen A. Chambers directed a cast that included John McGlothlin, Ned Cray, Ricardo Rodriquez, and Linda Ellis.

Roger Martin reviewed for
Directed by Steven A. Chambers ... the piece feels a little dated. Well it is, it's twenty years old. Perhaps it's the fourth-wall breaking monologues. Not too relevant these days.
... the show is a bit eggy. (Eggy? I stole it from my wife. It means a show's not quite there yet. Very useful.) A little blocking for blocking's sake (she's got to find those damn skin mags), a little more acting than being from Dad, too obvious lighting changes. You know, the little things that remind you you're watching a performance.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Under Steven A. Chambers' direction, the cast delivers one of Rising Action's more enjoyable productions, though as with so many shows by this company, The Sum of Us has positives and negatives.
As Jeff, John McGlothlin follows his impressive debut in Rising Action's Bent with another strong performance...
...Cray is an enthusiastic dream dad, but his accent wanders from Australia to Boston to New York. Rodriguez makes Greg a cipher who's about as authentically Aussie as a much-advertised American steakhouse. Ellis acquits herself well as the woman who might have made Harry happy.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote it up for The Sun-Sentinel;
...a yenta, even a straight Australian one working on matchmaking a gay son, needs a lot of charm, and this version just doesn't have it.
There are glancing blows (turns out Grandma was a lesbian), but never a direct hit … which is all the more frustrating with this production because you feel that there is something droll and deep going on, just beyond the reach of the actors directed by Steven A. Chambers.
John McGlothlin, who plays Jeff, fluctuates from excellent to wooden depending on with whom he shares the stage (for example, he is relaxed and less stagey with Ricardo Rodriguez as Greg). As Jeff's dad, Ned Cray just isn't up to having a show rest on his shoulders. Things do go better when he has a scene with sure-and-steady Linda Ellis as Joyce.
The Sum Of Us plays at Rising Action Theatre through May 30, 2010.

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