EverScape, written by Allan Maule, contains an interesting line. One of the characters states that “our grandparents” sought escape in movies, “our parents” sought escape through television, and “we” (the play’s protagonists, presumably the current generation) seek escape in online video games. We would add to this list another, older form of escape — live theater.
We find that this fourth vehicle for escape is our favorite and that this play is, indeed, an excellent example. And we found it quite satisfying to immerse ourselves, seeking escape, into this older form, in which we could escape into the lives of others who immerse themselves, seeking escape, in this newest form.
Bare Theatre and Sonorous Road Theatre co-produce, and Heather J. Strickland directs, this unique play. The central characters are four young people who are online gaming enthusiasts.
Several of the play’s scenes take place in the alternate reality of their favorite game in which the four have formed a team. These scenes are interspersed with scenes that take place in what they feel is the humdrum of their daily lives. We witness the characters’ desires and fears, as well as their struggles, successes, and failures.
The play deals with themes of friendship and loyalty, the quests for success, the quest for love, the urge to create, and the need to recreate (and re-create — both senses of that word). Be aware, also, that we meet these characters both as themselves in the real world and as their avatars in the cyber-world of Everscape.
Sean A. Brosnahan plays Devo. By day, he earns his living in a call center, offering tech support for computers, cell phones, and the like. His best friend is his co-worker (and gaming partner) Gil. Brosnahan makes it quite easy for us to empathize with the realities of his life. He is fiercely loyal to his friend. He has a longing to be in love, and he has been smitten by a woman whom he has only met online. His job is uninteresting. He is sure there is more to life, and he wants more.
Chris Hinton plays Gil, who is less idealistic than his friend and, at the same time, more reckless. He is more even more dissatisfied than Devo with his life in tech support. Hinton’s character is believable and fun to get to know. We feel his successes and his failures. Watch for his advice when Devo tells him about being in love with Kirin, and watch how he handles a customer’s request to speak with Devo’s manager — classic!
Areon Mobasher plays Foster, who seems to be the leader of this quartet. He is mega-excited about their opportunity to win jobs as game designers. And win they must. The character establishes a presence that invites faith and support from his team-mates. And Mobasher projects this nicely across the footlights.
Samantha Corey plays Kirin, the one female gamer in the quartet. Capable, confident, and cocky — Corey gives us a Kirin who is one tough customer. But Corey’s Kirin is also quite vulnerable, and she is very creative. Especially interesting are her scenes in the coffee shop where she works as well as her interaction with her parents.
Hilary Edwards, Tara Nicole Williams, Matt Fields, and George Labusohr are all spectacular as the plethora of “other characters.” Sometimes, they are in the Everscape reality, sometimes in the “real” world. Each member of this foursome switches back and forth between several roles and does so with aplomb.
The cyber-world of Everscape is a world of battle. Excellent fight choreography supplied by Jason Bailey keeps it exciting but safe.
Actress Tara Nicole Williams does double-duty as the costume designer, supplying the cast with a variety of outfits for the “real” world and with appropriate Everscape costumes. Props, by Ann Marie Crosmun, are authentic and believable; and lighting, designed by Brett Stegall, gives us real-world and cyber-world realities. And transitions are always smooth, thorough, and efficient.
G.Todd Buker supplies sound effects, and Rod Abernethy supplies music. Both contribute richly to the ambience of the cyber-world as well as that of the real world.
To put it short and sweet, director Heather Strickland has assembled a team of 100 percent winners with this cast and crew. The action plows forward at breakneck speed when appropriate and slows up appropriately for the more poignant and tender moments. Allan Maule’s script deserves first-class treatment, and this team does it proud.
For once, our Department of Picky-Picky is insisting on picking a positive “nit.” A final word about the verisimilitude of the cyber-world of this play: Audiences have grown accustomed to little pre-show “shows” at productions done by Bare Theatre. So, we were not surprised when a creature from the game emerged on the stage — prior to the director’s opening speech — and began stalking around the stage, growling at intervals. What we did not realize immediately is, this character represented the application launch screen for Everscape! Who else would think of this but the likes of Allan Maule? Or Heather Strickland? Or Todd Buker?
The bottom line: We recommend this show — from start to finish, it’s fun!
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 14th Durham, NC Indy Week review by Byron Woods (who awarded the show 4 pf 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/arts/archives/2016/10/14/theater-review-in-everscape-a-gripping-collision-of-real-and-online-worlds and Oct. 5th mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/everscape/Event?oid=5068324; and Oct. 7th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article106772777.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Oct. 11th Triangle Review review by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle and the Oct. 11th review by Dustin K. Britt, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2016/10/everscape-is-a-witty-and-delightful-comedy-with-serious-social-overtones/ and http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2016/10/allan-maules-ingenious-everscape-is-the-theatrical-event-of-the-season/, respectively.)
Bare Theatre and Sonorous Road Productions present EVERSCAPE at 8 p.m. Oct. 20-22 and 2 p.m. Oct. 23 at Sonorous Road Theatre, 209 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27605.
TICKETS: $18 ($10 students and $15 seniors and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919-322-8819, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2642815.
SHOW: http://baretheatre.org/everscape/, https://www.sonorousroadtheatre.com/everscape/, and https://www.facebook.com/events/592362937613143/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMwcYucczJw and https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2605428/video-702522-h264_high.mp4.
Bare Theatre: http://baretheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/BareTheatre, https://twitter.com/baretheatre, and https://www.youtube.com/user/TheBareTheatre.
Sonorous Road Productions: https://www.sonorousroad.com/, https://www.facebook.com/sonorousroad/, and https://twitter.com/sonorousroad.
EverScape (2015 New York International Fringe Festival play): http://everscapetheplay.weebly.com/ (official website).
Allan Maule (Raleigh, NC playwright): http://www.allanmaule.com/ (official website), https://www.facebook.com/allan.maule (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/maulerballer (Twitter page).
Heather J. Strickland (Raleigh, NC director and Bare Theatre community engagement director): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=570185297 (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.