Theatre Raleigh’s Hot Summer Nights production of Struck, a new play from a relatively newly discovered playwright named Sandy Rustin, opened Wednesday night, the first day of summer. This is another delightfully funny show, with a powerful mood-shaking twist part way through its 90-minute duration.
Rustin’s humor consists of great and often preposterous gags — cute, quippy stuff that put her characters into the realm of generally happy-go-lucky young professionals not much bothered by the various horrors of the world. The title refers to Vera, a budding actress who is hit by a guy on a bicycle while crossing a New York City street. The great theme of the play is coincidence. Is a coincidence accidental, or meaningful?
Director Gina Rattan, whose directing credits have taken her around the country as well as overseas, presents a fast-moving, laugh-a-minute portrait of an almost trivial nature that is light until one unsuspected turn slams us into a whole different world.
Emily Kron, as Vera, has a unique facility for showing the actress within her character’s character. Vera overplays her pain and discomfort just enough not to be “hamming it up,” but we can see she’s taking advantage of the situation. Her camping, while talking to her mother on the phone, is simply precious, and very believable.
Nate, Vera’s happy hubby, is well done by Sid Solomon. Nate is a patient, helpful spouse who is kind of the rudder of the family. He is the mensch that Vera needs in her life.
Melissa Macleod plays Vicky, Nate and Vera’s downstairs neighbor who is bit offbeat. Vicky is a Texan who is a bit foulmouthed — unlike any other character in the show — and in desperate need of a man; and Macleod brings a full-blown Texan personality to the role, and stalks the stage with authority.
James, the young bicyclist who drove his bike into Vera, comes to us from Liam Yates. Yates offers an intense but naïve-appearing nerd, who is stiff in social interactions and who leaves us wondering about him.
Derek Robinson plays Bertrand, French visitor for dinner at Vera and Nate’s, with a smooth European manner and charm.
Scenic designer Chris Bernier has created an exquisite Manhattan apartment, large and obviously expensive, with many windows through which to view America’s largest city. The spaciousness is enhanced by large empty squares and the front door being only a frame.
Changing atmospheres are suggested by Jenni Mann Becker’s excellent lighting design. A single decoration, the painting of a young girl by Anne Jordan, hangs center stage against the back wall, whence it is almost an additional character in the story. And contemporary costumes, designed by Elaine Brown, appropriately reveal the tastes and financial status of the characters.
Struck is an interesting, fun, and touching play, which may leave Triangle theatergoers smiling and thinking a bit deeper about this old world of ours.
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 Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/06/theatre-raleigh-strikes-gold-with-sandy-rustins-struck/.)
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.
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).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.