Theatre Raleigh has “struck gold” with Sandy Rustin’s Struck. Directed by Gina Rattan, this production entertains and engages for a very brisk 90 minutes. And it left us with some rather tasty food-for-thought.
Vera (Emily Kron) and Nate (Sid Solomon) are a young Jewish couple who live in a New York City apartment. Vicky (Melissa Macleod) is their lovable “kooky” neighbor. They all seem to be about thirty-something.
As the lights come up, we learn that Vera has been “struck” by a bicycle on a busy New York street. She has subsequently been “struck” by James (the cyclist), saying “I feel connected to him somehow.” She is “struck” by the idea of inviting him over to their apartment and also by the cosmic idea that “everything happens for a reason” and that “things are meant to be.” (These notions, by the way, loom in the background of the action, and they remained with us after the final bows.)
James (Liam Yates) is somewhat younger; Vera assumes that he is a college student. On his initial visit, the other characters (along with the audience) find him “strange and awesome.”
There are two other characters who figure into the scheme of things. One is an ancestor of Vera’s, a holocaust survivor who exists in a painting that hangs very prominently on the center of the upstage wall, presiding, as it were, over the action. The other is Bertrand (Derek Robinson), a Frenchman who arrives on the scene soon after the painting’s unexpected exit, thereby signaling a new chapter in the couple’s story.
The production is rife with humor from the very start.
Bruised and scraped, Vera must remove her shoes, socks and pants. Emily Kron coaxes laughter from the audience with groans, grimaces, and sighs reminiscent of Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Kron retains our sympathy throughout.
As Nate, Sid Solomon endears himself to us with his kindly manner and his off-hand observations about Vera’s situation and her cosmic musings. Nate is definitely the more down-to-earth of the two.
Melissa Macleod immediately makes us love Vicky as we laugh at her Texas-karma remarks and as we appreciate her neighborly concern for Vera and Nate. Just how kooky is this neighbor? We felt that she stole the show!
Liam Yates plays a James who appears to be quite shy. His clumsy, robotic personality is quite entertaining.
Derek Robinson delivers a Bertrand who is very appreciative of being invited into this family. The accent and the continental mannerisms are icing on the cake of this character.
Costume designer Elaine Brown clothed the characters appropriately. We are certain that she had fun populating Vicky’s wardrobe.
Scenic designer Chris Bernier has supplied the interior of an upscale New York apartment with cutouts of a skyline hemming it in. Particularly impressive was the choice to place the portrait of Vera’s ancestor on the center of the upstage wall and the choice to suggest the presence of other pictures by hanging empty frames on the walls, thereby emphasizing the importance of this particular picture.
The Department of Picky-Picky wants to commend the fact that a light comes on when the refrigerator door opens. Details like these are often over-looked.
Overall, this is a wonderful production of a very interesting and entertaining script. We recommend it.
SECOND OPINION: June 22nd Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article157682764.html; and June 22nd Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/06/fresh-engaging-and-contemplative-struck-tackles-tough-issues-with-a-light-touch/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the June 23rd Triangle Review review by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/06/struck-is-another-fast-moving-laugh-a-minute-comedy-from-theatre-raleigh/.)
Theatre Raleigh presents STRUCK at 8 p.m. June 23, 2 and 8 p.m. June 24, 3 p.m. June 2, 8 p.m. June 28-30, 2 and 8 p.m. July 1, and 3 p.m. July 2 in the in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $30 ($28 students, seniors 65+, and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919-832-9997, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://theatreraleigh.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S610000035dTeEAI.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-832-9997 or email@example.com.
SHOW: https://theatreraleigh.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S610000035dTeEAI and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/struck-theatre-raleigh-s-hot-summer-nights-series-private-event-8122.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://vimeo.com/222517158. 2017 SEASON: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/2017-season/.
PRESENTER: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheatreRaleigh/, and https://twitter.com/TheatreRaleigh.
Struck (2016 NJ REP play): http://sandyrustin.com/writing/ (official web page).
Sandy Rustin (New York City actress, playwright, and screenwriter): http://sandyrustin.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/10687 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1740407/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/sandy.r.fleischer (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/sandyrustin (Twitter page).
Gina Rattan (New York City director): http://ginarattan.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/gina-rattan-494047 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6745829/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/gina.rattan (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/rattanica (Twitter 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.