Saturday, November 13, 2010

- Theater Review - subUrbia

Bradley University Theatre's second offering of their 2010 - 2011 season is Eric Bogosian's intense drama "subUrbia".

Set in the early 90's against a soundtrack of grunge rock, it is the stark tale of a group of disaffected youth in a dead-end suburban town, appropriately named Burnfield.

And believe me, by the end of this play all that remains is scorched earth.

This group of young losers spends most of their waking hours hanging out in the parking lot of the corner convenience store. 

There is Sooze (Erin Kennedy), a wannabe performance artist who longs to move to New York in order to pursue a career.  Her boyfriend Jeff (Kevin Logsdon), is an unmotivated slacker who is negatively influenced by his friendship with the mean and dark Tim, played excruciatingly well by Ross Cochran.
Other members of the idler gang are Buff (Brian Zinda), whose life is one constant party quest, and the emotionally fragile Bee Bee (Katy Robinson).

This night marks the return of Pony (Dakota Kuhlman), the one member of the group who was able to get out of Burnfield and make something of himself as a minor rock star.  His lingering affection for Sooze brings him back to his former local haunt.  He returns along with his sexy publicist Erica (Janice Gerlach) in a stretch limo, which serves here as a symbol of success, the trophy for finally "getting out".

The cast is rounded out by Raj Bond and Arianna Brown, who play the Pakistani brother and sister 'Norman' and Pakeeza, owners of the convenience store and the targets of Tim's racist aggression.
Mr. Bond turns in a perfect performance as the hard-working immigrant in search of the American dream.

The cast is made up of some newer faces and all the acting here is excellent, without exception.  As is often the case, the stand out performances are those of the darkest characters. 

Ms. Robinson is superb as the damaged, self-loathing Bee Bee, who is fresh out of rehab and destined for destruction.

Mr. Cochran is exceptional as the loathsome Tim.  This character is a drunken, racist, self-destructive loser.  After watching this performance, I felt like I should go home and shower.  Mr. Bond plays the part with such dangerous precision, I can only imagine that he will require an extended beach vacation to get this guy out of his head.

Such performances as these must be partly attributed to the excellent direction of Steve Snyder.

Special mention must be made of the setting as well.  The designers have constructed an entire 7-11 style store on the Hartmann Center stage, and the effect is simply incredible!  Kudos to the set designers.

This play is rooted in such gritty reality as to make it difficult to watch in places.  Some of the rants, heavy with the N-word, the C-word, and the F-word had the audience squirming in their seats.  There were many in the already sparse audience who did not return for the second act.

Regardless, the performances and set make this show well worth a look. 

It runs through November 21st.  Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling 677-2650.

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