Deep Dish Theater Company’s intimate Friday-night performance of Journey’s End, directed by Karen O’Brien, offered a riveting revelation of the often-overlooked mental wars and demons fought by soldiers. English playwright and World War I veteran R.C. Sherriff’s 1928 play maintains a pleasant balance between heavy emotional material and comedic relief.
The story takes place in a single setting; and a warm, rustic glow strikes the audience as they trickle into the small theater. Scenic designer Michael Allen has transformed the stage of Deep Dish’s small black-box theater into a room in a World War I-style bunker, with worn hardwood beams covering its entirety and complete with knickknacks and details of all sorts true to the time period.
Beyond the main room was the packed dirt and branches of a trench tunnel, and the twilight blue of its color made the interior of the bunker that much cozier. The sheer realism of the set was incredible, and properly set the tone as to what the audience could expect from the rest of the production.
Journey’s End is a play that depends on well-done realism to be successful, and Deep Dish Theater Company could not have delivered a more realistic or impressive performance. It was evident that the cast members knew their characters inside and out, making each of their performances immensely more realistic. For example, Osborne (Eric Carl) clenched his fists and ran his thumbs over his folded knuckles as a nervous habit; and Stanhope (Gus Allen) ran his palms repeatedly over his thighs when he felt stressed and uncertain.
The actors’ tiny, barely noticeable actions allowed their characters to come that much more to life. Gus Allen’s Stanhope especially stood out in Friday’s performance, as his facial expressions so accurately demonstrated the anguish and shame that Stanhope felt throughout the play.
Again, each actor developed and performed his role to perfection. Trotter (Carl Martin) and Mason (David Hudson) were notable in providing sufficient comedic relief during some of the play’s more solemn moments, which were plentiful. The audience both chuckled heartily and full out laughed throughout the show, and gazed upon the scene before them with concern and heavy hearts.
The characters’ pain and anguish was portrayed with the utmost authenticity, and the dry humor never failed to earn at least a chuckle from the audience. Overall, Deep Dish Theater Company’s March 6th presentation of Journey’s End offered an incredibly talented performance of a remarkably well-done story.
SECOND OPINION: March 5th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article12616256.html.
Deep Dish Theater Company presents JOURNEY’S END at 8 p.m. March 7, 2 p.m. March 8, 7:30 p.m. March 11 and 12, 8 p.m. March 13 and 14, 2 p.m. March 15, 7:30 p.m. March 18 and 19, and 8 p.m. March 20 and 21 in Deep Dish’s performance space at 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, between The Print Shop and the Public Library in University Mall.
TICKETS: $25 ($21 students and $23 seniors and educators), with a $2 discount for Wednesday and Thursday shows. Every Wednesday, Deep Dish will sell a number of “Cheap Dish” tickets at the door for just $14.
BOX OFFICE: 919-968-1515 or https://www.vendini.com/.
SHOW: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/news?n=132. NEWS RELEASE: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions?p=68.
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/, https://www.facebook.com/deepdishtheater, and https://twitter.com/deepdishtheater.
NOTE 1: There will be a post-performance discussion on Sunday, March 8th, with the cast and Joseph W. Caddell of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Departments of History and Peace, War and Defense; a “Meet-the-Designers” discussion on Thursday, March 12th, with the production staff; and another post-performance discussion on Sunday, March 15th, with cast members and UNC-Chapel Hill Professor in the Humanities John McGowan.
NOTE 2: The Deep Dish Theater Reading Group will discuss All Quiet on the Western Front, a 1929 novel about the Great War written by German WWI veteran Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17th at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514. For details about Deep Dish Theater’s upcoming book-club selections, click here.
Journey’s End (1928 British and 1929 Broadway drama): http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=4946 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey%27s_End (Wikipedia).
The Script: https://books.google.com/books (Google Books).
Robert Cedric “R.C.” Sherriff (English playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and World War I veteran, 1896-1975): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=8204 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._C._Sherriff (Wikipedia).
Karen O’Brien (director and an assistant in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Dramatic Art): http://drama.unc.edu/karen-obrien/ (UNC Department of Dramatic Art bio) and https://www.facebook.com/karen.obrien.7712 (Facebook page).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sarah Rose McQuillan is a full-time student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studies public relations and political science. She has loved the performing and visual arts since childhood and keeps this love alive by writing reviews for Triangle Arts and Entertainment and the Daily Tar Heel. Sarah is a native of upstate New York, and enjoys reading, yoga, coffee, and her dog.