Orlando Shakes, Orlando FL
by Carl F. Gauze
Twenty years ago, it seemed like every company in Central Florida was doing this show. But it’s been almost 20 years since I tried to remember any times in September, but it’s all coming back. We have two conniving fathers Hucklebee (E. Mani Cadet) and Bellomy (Bert Rodriguez) who share a common wall and a common interest in gardening. Hucklebee waters heavily, Bellomy prefers dry soil and disciplined pruning. They mutually built a wall to keep their kids Matt (Damian Barray) and Luisa (Valerie Torres-Rosario) apart, correctly assuming that such wall would drive them into each others arms. The plan is sound, but they decide to buy some insurance and they hire the narrator El Gallo (Gaines) to fake an abduction. El Gallo creates a suitable drama with the help of “The Actor” (Philip Nolan) and “The Man Who Dies” (Brandon Roberts.) But the plan backfires and Matt runs away to play pirate. He doesn’t become rich, he just gets rolled. Luisa is in tears, but he comes back older, wiser and broke. They agree he should have never left; he won’t leave again, etc., etc., etc… You know the play.
Mr. Gain’s Narrator is an excellent man for the role, cool and suave. He’s a smoothy with a rapier, women swoon for him, and men which he would go away and give them a chance. The young couple drips hormones and that laser sharp focus of young lust. And the dads argue and fuss, but they remain friends and cohorts in romantic crime. But the real story here comes from Nolan and Roberts who over-act, under assume, and make every physical jab and joke hilarious. They enter trudging up and out of the magic prop box center stage, dressed in outfits stolen from the “Holy Grail” costumers. Roberts pulls uproarious laughter from the crowd by simply standing still. Nolan got the same effect by pretending to stage fight, and while he didn’t stop the show, he slowed it down more than once. The pair put the joy of theater front and center with their burned out familiarity in the laughter industry. Perhaps this is what we need to escape this year’s doldrums: Brandon Roberts staring at us. I know I came out about two point three times happier than I was going in.