Monday, March 19, 2012

The Alliance Theatre Lab: Off Center of Nowhere (4 reviews)

The Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of David Michael Sirois' Off Center of Nowhere on March 16, 2012.
Jackie, 17 year old Brooklyn high school student, has a secret to tell her parents.  But, in confessing her one secret, it unleashes a string of confessions that can destroy her whole family.  As the story unfolds, the characters are faced with moral conundrums that deal with abortion, racism and religion.
Adalberto J. Acevedo directed a cast that featured Andy Quiroga, LaVonne Canfield, Breeza Seller, and Mcley LaFrance.

Bill Hirschman
reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The Alliance Theatre Lab’s world premiere is sit-com funny until it intentionally slams the audience into a concrete wall that will leave most observers stunned. That’s when you realize Off Center is really about the limits of how far people can bend their moral code for loved ones before breaking. How unconditional is unconditional love?
Sirois, Alliance’s resident playwright who penned its successful Brothers Beckett last season, shows an ever-deepening talent with his second produced full-length play. You can quibble that the script could use a nip and tuck here and there... But Sirois has a feel for dramatic structure, insight into interpersonal relations among characters and a gift for slipping a serious theme inside an entertaining comedy.
Sirois is well served by the Alliance’s Artistic Director Acevedo who keeps the intermissionless play barreling along with tight pacing and crisp exchanges among the characters. He only slows the subway express when characters need to have a tender moment or to absorb the latest surprise. He also has the characters underscore their genuine affection with frequent kissing, nuzzles and cuddling that belies their caustic dialogue.’s hard to pin down what Breeza Zeller does to make Jackie such a believable teenager...
Andy Quiroga has the character most in danger of slipping into sit-com stereotype: the blue-collar father coping with the headaches of raising a teenager. But not for a moment does Quiroga succumb to a cardboard cartoon... Jackie may be the protagonist, but Quiroga makes Paulie the fulcrum.
Canfield’s depiction of love and trust as Lucy struggles with her daughter’s cascading revelations is as true as anything in the show.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The new play confirms that Sirois is an impressively talented young playwright with a distinctive voice; as a writer, he’s quick, funny, adept at lacing his text with old and new pop culture references that feel organic coming from his characters’ mouths. He creates believable, complex, interesting characters of both genders. As Off Center of Nowhere so amply demonstrates, he’s not afraid to tackle tough subjects. And he does so in a way that makes you consider warring beliefs, even as you’re laughing at what Sirois has cooked up.
Off Center of Nowhere packs more twists, turns, dips and rises than a thrilling roller coaster ride. Director Adalberto J. Acevedo has paced the play beautifully, helped by Sirois’ wonderful way with crafting scenes.

Wonderful, too, is the way the cast brings these characters to life. Canfield and Zeller have enough of a resemblance to be completely believable as mother and daughter, and the two play their parts with a similar feistiness. As reprehensible as Paulie’s racist remarks are, Quiroga finds a way to make the guy funny and likeable, and despite their little guy-big gal physical differences, he and Canfield make the couple’s ongoing attraction clear and credible. Lafrance is a charming, smart, tender-hearted and ultimately heartbreaking Ronald.
What happens specifically in Off Center of Nowhere is something you need to experience for yourself. And you should. Given Sirois’ writing skills, it probably won’t take long for the more lucrative worlds of film and television to beckon him. Here’s hoping theater will always call to him too.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
David Michael Sirois... just topped his last year's world premiere of Brothers Beckett with this year's Off Center of Nowhere, also a world premiere. 
Alliance Theatre Lab's Off Center of Nowhere boasts not only a terrific script but also a terrific cast.
Andy Quiroga was made for this role; his range is extraordinary.  As for the others?  Well, it's seldom you see a play that has been cast as well as this.  Surely Canfield and Zeller are really mother and daughter.  Tenderness like this can't be faked.   And Lafrance?   His embarrassment and resentment must be real. 
Director Adalberto J. Acevedo has a way with actors and writers that seems just right.   He draws out the very best and presents it to us on his stage.  Lucky us.
 Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
David Michael Sirois smacks of genius!   The South Florida playwright unwrapped his second full-length play – Off Center of Nowhere – with a world premiere at the Alliance Theatre Lab  here and it displayed once again that he is something special in the realm of theatre.
This cast is excellent, obviously well-paced  by Director Adalberto Acevedo, who gives his actors the freedom to move and yell with spontaneity.  Each scene is a wonderment, begging the audience to know what is coming next. Sirois’  four characters are totally believable and the actors spew reality.
I have a hunch that years from now, when the name Sirois appears on cinema  credits or  TV screens as the scribe responsible for “written for TV,”  people who have seen this enjoyable bit of theatre will say “I remember him when he just got started.”
The Alliance Theatre Lab presents Off Center of Nowhere at The Main Street Playhouse through April 8, 2012.

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