Last night we attended the opening of The Downside Risk at the Wings Theatre. Our friend Shannon Black was one of the actors in it, and we enjoyed her performance in Next Stop, Nightmare (written and directed by her husband, Jason Black). This is a limited run show, eight performances through September 11th, so you still have time to go see it.
On the page linked above is the following quote:
Bill Svanoe’s play has been labeled the “Death of a Salesman for the Computer Age.”
I would say that’s accurate. Bill totally captures the life (lives) of people who are on the road selling non-stop. Of course, there is a toll on everyone around them, families, friends, customers, acquaintances, etc.
At intermission, the three of us (we attended with a friend) predicted the two major plot twists. We were correct. I wasn’t even slightly disappointed to have been correct. In fact, those were two of the more interesting and poignant scenes in the play. I was glad not to be shocked by a trick, but rather moved by a well-written, well-acted realistic turn of events.
It was opening night, so there was some shakiness expected. While there were a few tiny flubs (quickly and well repaired), I was surprised by how few, so a shout-out to the cast for working so hard to get it right the first time out of the gate.
In general, that cast was pretty good, though there was noticeable variability between the best and worst of them. If you read my post about Next Stop, Nightmare, you already know how highly we think of Shannon, so let me call out a few of the other actors.
Both Lois and I agreed that the best performance was delivered by Zade O’Blenes. While Zade was on stage for quite a bit of the play, she was not a central character. Yet, whenever she was in the scene (one very dramatic one in particular), she was incredible.
Geoff Schuppert played the lead. Geoff was in nearly every scene, so his ability to maintain focus and passion throughout was extremely impressive. A very few times his role felt a tad over-acted, but given how long he was on stage, and what a powerful performance he gave, I feel a bit guilty sharing that.
Matt Klane played another central character and was believable throughout in a role that could be very tricky to play correctly.
There were a number of other good performances in supporting roles.
The play lasted 1:50, including a 10 minute intermission. We enjoyed it, but with some quality editing, it could probably be shortened by 10-15 minutes and be improved at the same time. Still, a very solid show, worth catching, if you want to be pulled into a world many of us see only peripherally.
Lois took very few shots because she didn’t want to distract the actors (it feels totally different to a musical performance). Here is one good shot of Shannon (we were very close to this part of the stage) and part of the long line of actors who took a well-deserved curtain call:
The friend we went with lives a block away from the theater. When we suggested we grab dinner before the show, he recommended Malatesta Trattoria which happened to be exactly across the street from the theatre.
We had an incredible meal there and got to relax and catch up with a good friend. The only thing to be forewarned about (I was, so it wasn’t a problem for me) is that this place is cash only. The restaurant staff couldn’t be nicer or more helpful. Two of us had the Swordfish (which was one of the specials of the day) and was awesome. I also highly recommend the latte.