Time to Remember
Married couple Alan and Charis Walker breathe life into Jenny Lyn Bader's comedy "None of the Above", culminating in an exciting night of theatre in Bay County. Directed by Brian Hilario with a brisk pace, this dialogue heavy two character piece is about a spoiled 17 year old girl whose father hires an geeky S.A.T. tutor for his daughter. Mix in minor drug trafficing and gambling addiction and that is essentially the plot of the show. (Okay, there's more, I just don't want to spoil anything.) The script itself is a bit uneven with a tone that doesn't quite hit a balance, but director Hilario and his actors solve this by finding the truth in the piece, grounding their performances more on the dramatic side and letting the humor come through naturally. Overall this works and is probably the best solution, but there were times when I saw missed opportunities for a bit of comedic flair and timing. The forward moving pace is effective, but what is lost are "moments" that could have enriched the strong performances and allowing for character growth.
Speaking of performances, individually and as a couple, Alan and Charis are stellar. Their connection and rapport are electric- the benefits of having a real life couple portraying a budding relationship on stage are immeasurable. There is a comfort displayed in their mere "presence" that is hard to fabricate. That being said, I wish there had been a little more reserve in the first act- the one thing that was abundantly clear is that Alan Walker unabashedly loves his wife, and that is beautiful, but his character Clark appears to have feelings at first sight, with no allowances for growth. Walker is a powerful actor with a rich voice and a commanding presence. My only nit-picky complaint would be that he is too strong and self assured as the nerdy tutor. I wanted more social ineptitude and eye averting. (Hey, I said nit picky because the acting was incredible- for actors it's about choices and Walker had very clear and inteligent choices that made it work)
Charis Walker's Jaime wrings the most humor out of her performance as the spoiled yet secretly brilliant pot dealing teenager. Here body language is loose and young, her delivery sharp and humor concise and zingy without being forced, Occasionally there were times that she lost the youthful 17 year old portrayal (seemingly to match her husband's intensity) but mostly she captured that adolescent insouciance perfectly.
Adding to the overall charm and excitement of the experience was the theatre space itself. 9 muses Theatre is an up and coming theatrical company that has no permanent space and they have found the most perfect spot for a "storefront theatre" in Little Mustardseed on Harrison Avenue in Panama City. The second floor "Loft" provides an intimate cozy space that thrilled with its lack of frills. With nary a high intensity theatrical light-clip on lights on ceiling beams and lamps provide the simple and effective illumination. The audience is level with the actors and on the set giving it a visceral effect of eavesdropping on the actors. There's a certain gonzo and audacious feeling being that close to the action that feels raw and alive. I hope they perform more pieces in that space.
Overall, the production seemed fresh and bold. Kudos to the whole team for bringing something different to the Panama City theatrical community. I look forward to what comes next.
Stephen LaDow is a local actor, blogger,singer, barista , and supporter of the arts. He lives on the West End of Panama City. Follow his blog at Unfiltered-ness.com.
Memories, opinions, stories, reviews, pop culture.