Aaron Posner’s “Life Sucks,” based loosely on Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” takes seven colorful characters and lets us eavesdrop on their lives, learning what makes them happy and sad, and whether they believe life is hopeless or offers fresh hope with each dawn.
The play continues its Michigan debut at the Open Book Theatre Company, 1621 West Road, Trenton at 8 p.m. Sept. 16, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30, and 2 p.m. Sept. 17 and 24. The matinees include a post-show discussion with the artists.
The strong cast of the OBTC show break the fourth wall without pushing the audience too far out of their comfort zone as each character has a chance to deliver some revealing and fascinating monologues. The paired scenes are strong as well, offering a glimpse into the dynamics between the characters.
The show is broken up into four acts with one intermission. The first act is slow, and one initially fears – despite the strong acting – that it might be a long evening. However, the pace soon picks up, and as the characters shed their secrets and bare their souls, one becomes invested in the quirky characters and their surprising common ability to secretly and stubbornly hold torches for secret loves for way too long.
Directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank, the cast includes Joshua Brown as Vanya, Jonathon Davidson as Aster, Dale Dobson as Professor, Linda Rabin Hammell as Babs, Mandy Logsdon as Pickles, Caitlin Morrison as Ella and Taylor Morrow as Sonia.
Longsdon humanizes Pickles and catches the audience off guard with the low key but strong impact she has on the other characters.
It is difficult to accept Morrow as an ugly duckling when even with minimal makeup her energy and personality maintain her radiance, but she does effectively portray an insecure young woman with frustrated longings.
Hammell plays Babs with quirky energy and panache. Dobson delivers a pompous ass you love to hate, while Brown’s Vanya is convincingly insecure and morose.
Davidson and Morrison are limited the most by their characters, but they make the most with what they have.
Tickets are $20, with a $5 discount for students and seniors. To order, call 734-288-7753 or go to openbooktc.com.
‘ROCKY HORROR’ SHADOW CAST SEEKING RIFF RAFF, ROCKY
Do you do “The Time Warp?” Have you ever fantasized about playing Riff Raff or Rocky in a “Rocky Horror” shadow cast, where a live cast acts out the story as the cult film classic plays on the screen? If you have, take a jump to the left and contact Detroit Actor’s Theatre Company producer Eric Swanson at [email protected] before 11 p.m. Sept. 17.
The shadow cast does not sing or speak, but mimics the scenes in the film. Rehearsals and performances are held at 1021 Manistique, Detroit, in a former church where the group performed last season.
Each role receives a $200 stipend. Riff Raff must move well and be able to dance, while Rocky must have an attractive physique and be willing to wear a gold Speedo.
Performances are 8 p.m. Oct. 27 and 30 and 11 p.m. Oct. 28.