See Rock City
By Arlene Hutton
Starring Loren Krabill and Seth Thornton
Mad Cow Theater. Orlando FL
Carl F. Gauze
In Mad Cow Theatre’s production, See Rock City, the war is over, but that doesn’t make things better for Raleigh (Seth Thornton). He 4Fs out of service because of sporadic seizures and struggles to make money writing short stories. He did marry his sweetheart May (Loren Krabill), who teaches grade school, but they must live with his mother Mrs. Gill (Marylin McGinnis). Her mother Mrs. Brummett (Sarah Humbert) lives right next door, and the humiliation and snark never stop. It’s a classic “No man is good enough for my daughter” story, and the naysayers have a point: epilepsy prevents Raleigh from going to war or even holding a factory job. Life grinds on with southern moralizing and humidity. Raleigh feels lost and useless even as his dear May works her fingers to the bone. When the troops start coming home, everyone loses their jobs, and the couple only has one option: a potential invitation for Raleigh to write a novel. At least they will get to New York City.
See Rock City is a sharp, mournful production of missed dreams, lost opportunities, and the collapse of a promising marriage in the face of random life events. Raleigh charmed us while May took the martyr’s path of trying to save her lover. But it took those good, honest church women to mow down all hope of marital bliss. Their list of perceived failures may hold truth, but it heaps humiliation on the young ones. These matrons claim to pray for the couple, but I suspect they stick voodoo needles into them in the dark.
Tonight’s audience was somber as well, and the Mad Cow space felt dead and lifeless. Sure, the bartender poured and the box office… boxed, but there was a dark pall over the evening with Mad Cow’s impending change of venue. This, too, is a bittersweet ending. I’ve seen nearly everything they’ve done in the past twenty years and found each and every show precisely articulated on an impressive stage. But now we see that the paint job is beautiful, but the plywood behind it is falling apart.