Thursday, August 2, 2012

See Rock City

Just a little over a week ago I made my way back to Cumberland County Playhouse to see their most recent play production, See Rock City by Arlene Hutton. This is the second in a trilogy of plays by Hutton, set in the thirties and forties and following the lives of young couple Raleigh and May.

With a small cast of only four actors, it seems fitting that CCP would have the production in their smaller Adventure Theatre. Placing it there lends intimacy to an already intimate play. The set, designed by John Partyka, puts you in the era immediately. Only the front porch of the Gill home is seen, but above the house you see World War II era posters in the background. Add to that the music playing (all from that time period) and the audience has no doubts as to where their mind should be when the production begins.

Raleigh and May are a young married couple, played by real life married couple, Greg & Lindy Pendzick. Greg brings a level of comedy and laughter to the first several scenes of the play that made me wonder if it was going to turn out to be a comedic fluff piece. Sure there were laughs. Good ones. But I wasn’t sure I was expecting comedy. Very quickly, though, the tone of the show changed, becoming a serious piece that examines the time period and life-style of the era and Greg Pendzick added many layers to his character.

Lindy Pendzick’s May is beautifully elegant. She takes the character and makes it entirely apparent why May works, thinks, and acts the way she does. The time in which Raleigh and May live would have the two living opposite lives, but circumstances leave them in reverse of the “typical” roles for the time period.

Throughout the show, you see how Raleigh’s mother has been a hurdle for him, and May’s mother has been a help for both of them. Patty Payne as the all caring Mrs. Gill, May’s mother, is near perfection as she never shoves herself into the relationship of the young couple, yet obviously understand what they are going through and the emotions they deal with. On the flip side, Carol Irvin attacks the role of Mrs. Brummett making what could be a very disagreeable character into one that you simply feel sorry for. That alone is a special talent. Mrs. Brummett is abrasive, rude, and often downright mean. But through it all, Irvin makes you see that she’s living the only way she know how.

Something I found to be very helpful to the understanding of the time period was a section in the program that included World War 2 dates that were relevant to the play. It’s been a little while since I had U.S. History, so some of the information had faded to the back of my mind. While I think understanding of the play would have still been fine, it helped having a quick review when I was skimming through the program before the show started.

This show is more than worth seeing. See Rock City takes you through a wide range of emotions, from laughter to deep sadness. In fact, at intermission, the person next to me looked at me and said “that got heavy quickly.” And so it did. But not to be disheartened, you leave the show wanting to know what happens next to the young couple and having hope that they will come through in the end.

Greg & Lindy Pendzick as Raleigh & May
Picture taken from CCP's facebook page

See Rock City only runs through August 17th, so I encourage you to grab your tickets while you still can. You won’t regret it. You can get tickets by clicking HERE or by calling the Cumberland County Playhouse at 931-484-5000.

1 comment:

  1. If I lived there, I would see it.
    Your reviews are really, really good.