Knowledge is a good thing. A little knowledge, however, can be dangerous. Knowledge is also power. Power can be used for good or evil. And so goes the many possible themes to DCP’s BORN YESTERDAY, written by Garson Kanin. It is ironic that newcomer, but talented, Director Nicolette Addice, in her own words, in her Director’s Notes in the program, tried to go beyond those basic themes; to dig deeper into possible other aspects of this play.
“Works of art hold different meanings for different people”, explains Addice. She challenged her actors during the rehearsal period to seek their own meanings to the play and then point blank told the audience in the playbill to examine for themselves the show’s concept. I am not sure I found the true meaning of what Kanin was trying to say. I do not consider this play to be anything close to a work of art as does Addice. I reserve the right to not call it “art”, but a work of fiction. And I believe Addice would be the first one to agree with me that it’s ok not to like it. I did not care for the way the show was written, set in a post World War Washington, DC. The dialogue came across as dated and the characters were “caricatures” instead of real people. You had the tough guy, Harry Brock, a “Joey Baggadonuts” ala 1940’s gangster style businessman who through whatever means necessary, manipulates people for his own personal gain; Billie Dawn, the dizzy blonde (of course) former chorus girl and girlfriend to Brock who eventually stands up to the jerk after he verbally insults her and physically abuses her. She does this with the help of Paul Verrall, a frustrated writer/reporter of sorts, ironically hired by Brock to make Billie “undumb”. Then you round out the play with several stooges in Brock’s employ who unfortunately lap at his money trough out of necessity or by choice.
That being said, I thought Addice did a good job with the direction of the show. She will have many opportunities to shine in the future and DCP should slate her as one in their stable of directors. She did a fine job casting the two leads, Rebecca Shimer as Billie and Rob Patey as Harry. Shimer grew into the part of Billie and by the end of the play, you routed for her to break away from Brock and win her life back. She was a crowd favorite come curtain call. Patey, who had to show anger and frustration most of the show, did. He was a dominant force onstage; however, a slight backing down on the anger emotion could make him even more of a threatening menace than his constant shouting. Nevertheless, he pulled off the bad guy role and by show’s end, I hated him. Mission Accomplished. Barry Crush’s semi-hero Verrall was mild mannered and low key, or so he seemed next to Patey. Matt Mazza as Brock’s kissass attorney, Ed Devery, who was the brains behind the Brock brawn, played the role as a sloppy drunk. That could be considered poetic justice for a sellout attorney. Other actors involved with the production were Seth Baliles, Howard Algeo, Terry Tompkins, Diana Cummiskey, Lydia Crush and Amy Peart.
High praise to the Technical Designer Mike Addice who, along with Bill Algeo, pulled off a marvelous set. It was appealing to the eye, thanks to the crisp lighting from Brad James. Set Dresser and Producer Emma Strowger left nothing to the imagination, placing many props on stage to make the expensive Washington Hotel room seem real. The crew, who sometimes get overlooked in shows, should be commended for the appearance of the show; it was noticed, Bravo!
BORN YESTERDAY continues its run through August 14th. If other audiences like the 200 patrons who viewed this Saturday’s performance enjoy it as much, DCP should have a very successful production to add to their 60th Anniversary Season!
by Garson Kanin
Directed by Nicolette Addice
July 29-Aug 14, 2011
795 Ridge Road (Route 563)
Telford, PA 18969