Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review of The Sweeter Option at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Sweeter Option. It was written by John Henry Roberts (my dad). I think it is ok for me to review my dad's play because I wasn't there for the entire rehearsal process, so I didn't already know all the tricks, so I was still surprised by everything. You still get my first impression and I think people want to know my opinion on this. And I think it is still fair because I will give my honest opinion whatever I am reviewing. It was directed by Marti Lyons. It was about a man named Tucker (Sam Guinan-Nyhart) who is employed by a woman, Carolyn (Emily Tate), to go and get this money that her lover must have stolen. Then he meets this woman Irene (Michaela Petro) and she supposedly has the money. Then two teenagers, named Joy (Sarah Price) and Pete (Rudy Galvan), want to get the money too. I think this show is about love, letting your emotions get away with you, and wanting to be someone else. I really loved this show. I loved how you got to know the characters so well, even though it was only 80 minutes. There is lots of shooting, panicking, and surprises. I think that is a great way to have a show because sometimes, in this show, you think you know what you are getting into but you don't because all the surprises sneak up on you. I really like shows that make you work to understand, like this one, because if you don't have to work for them, if you just sit back and have them explain it all to you, it is not as much fun. I love solving puzzles!

The scenes in the show are kind of mixed up; you have the second scene first and the first scene second. Some people might find it confusing, but the way that you don't find it confusing is that you just look in your program and see, "Oh, this scene happened before this scene!" The set (by Joanna Iwanicka) changes so dramatically that it doesn't look at all like what the set looked like before, so that can help you because if they go to a place that they just talked about leaving, then you know, "Oh, this happened before they were in the car." I thought the set was really awesome. I loved the changes and I loved how it would just open up to reveal a new place. Props (by Amanda Herrmann) can also help you out: if someone is carrying a brown bag and they didn't have that bag in the scene before, but then if they are getting that bag in the scene after, you know that was before they were in the car. You are figuring stuff out as it goes along! I also really liked the props. I thought they really contributed to the entire story and made it look like the 70s. I also really loved the costumes (by Kristy Leigh Hall). When Irene takes off this jacket that she was wearing in the last scene and Carolyn comes out in that coat, you think, "Oh, she must take that coat from her at some point." And then you find out if you are right by the end of the scene.

I really loved the first scene in the show but the second scene in the timeline. It was such a great way to start the show. You hear all the noises of the car coming by (sound by Heath Hays) and then the door opens and you see a man walking in with a woman slung over his shoulder. It starts it off on a kind of comedic note but it is also dark; you don't know if this woman is dead or if she is just asleep. It lays out a bunch of options for what the next thing is and you can ponder what this woman's part in the story is. I also really liked that when she wakes up she drinks almost an entire bucket of water and then she asks "Who are you?" and "Where am I?"and it is funny because she drinks the water before she even asks those questions. One of my favorite lines was the one that Tucker said when he said, "Findings. It's a word I know." And the way he says it is so sarcastic and that makes it so funny. And then later in the scene, a girl named Joy walks in and says, "I'm looking for the Smiths." And I think that was a great way to introduce the character because it really showed what she was like. She does not like to say what she actually wants. I think that she is a great character because she is very loyal but she is also not very focused all the time. Even though she is the more focused of the two, her and Pete, then she is still not focused because she is arguing with him about how much more in the game she is than him when they are trying to get something from these other people. I'm actually not just being vague for fun. I'm being vague because otherwise that would give away the entire moment. It was so funny when you first see Pete and he's trying to open up this case but he wants to keep his eyes on the person he's pointing the gun at, so he can't find the lock and he's just feeling around the case. It makes me crack up so hard.

The scene in the car was super awesome. I really loved the car. It was amazing looking. It looked like an actual old 70s car and I thought that was really awesome. I really liked the entire radio scene where Tucker kept getting so mad about how Irene was touching the radio so much because she didn't know what station she wanted. And then he said, "Why don't we just go down to the radio station so you can burn it down." That line also has to do with another part of the show, which happens before in the timeline but it happens after in the show. That was very clever, father. Cyril (Matt Farabee) is this boy at the gas station who is a big fan of Tucker's because he showed that people named Cyril could also be cool. He was a very lovable character because he was so excited to meet his hero.

I thought the scene in Irene's living room was very emotional for a bunch of reasons that I can't say. But then it was also really funny for this line and this face: so when Irene had to use the bathroom, Tucker asked her to empty out the drawers and then when she emptied them all out, she made this smile like "Ok, ok, I got it." Like a sarcastic smile which is one of my favorite faces in the world. And the best line was, "Oh, I keep the bazooka in the upstairs bathroom." Because of course she doesn't keep a bazooka in the upstairs bathroom. And accompanied by that smile it was just so funny. Then it gets darker when Carolyn comes in and she seems really stressed and she hasn't done her makeup lately because she has been so sad because she is worried about Leo, her lover. I thought that she did not seem like a bad person even though Leo was married to someone else; you still like her even though she is doing something wrong.

The final scene was super cool. There were lots of twists and turns throughout the entire scene. You even get to meet a new character in the scene. You get to meet his friend/landlord, Mac (Jamie Vann). Mac was the only person who seemed completely honest and did not have anything bad happen to him. I really liked how Tucker kept falling asleep, and each time he fell asleep, he would wake up and something would be different. And every time he closed his eyes, the lights (by Jordan Kardasz) would go out so it was like you were in his mind. And I thought that was really cool. Tucker was so funny when he kept eating the instant coffee. He didn't drink it, he just spooned it into his mouth. It literally was instant coffee. The scene was funny but also scary. I'm very frustrated that I can't talk about much about it because I don't want to give anything away about the plot that is so complex and awesome. You have to pay attention to all the different keys there are or you won't get the end. And then you also have to think about what the picture that Irene drew meant.

People who would like this show are people who like noir, action, and literally instant coffee. I think this show had great acting throughout all the parts. It was also very funny, scary, and intense. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is a great show; you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time and there will be lots of squealing whenever anyone gets shot.

Photos: Kyle Hamman, KBH Media

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