Saturday, April 20, 2024

DTC's 44th Season Closer, "The Flatlanders," Certainly Doesn't Fall Flat

By Mike Logothetis
Theater reviewer Mike Logothetis grew up in North Wilmington, performing in school and local theater productions. He lives in Newark, but you can find him wherever the arts are good.

Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) closes its 44th season with the touching and funny play The Flatlanders by Bruce Graham. DTC has partnered with 1812 Productions to present this new composition about what it takes to keep the flame alive when everything else is, quite literally, falling apart.
The Flatlanders now playing at DTC.
Photo by Matt Urban, NĂ¼POINT Marketing.

The show is a World Premiere for playwright Graham, who won the Rosenthal Prize for his play Coyote on a Fence, two Barrymore Awards for Something Intangible and Any Given Monday, and the Joseph Jefferson Award for The Outgoing Tide. He has received grants from the Pew Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation plus was a past winner of the Princess Grace Foundation Statuette.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring our audiences another world premiere production,” says Matt Silva, Executive and Artistic Director of DTC. “New work is important. So is laughter.”

And there is plenty of laughter – smart, corny, and edgy – to be found in The Flatlanders.

Travelers Ronnie (Jennifer Childs) and Michael (Scott Greer) must break into a remote cabin in the Poconos during a blizzard to ride out the storm. The two “flatlanders” from Philadelphia are in a committed 14-year relationship which is about to become wedded bliss (maybe?) in a day’s time. While taking stock of what the cabin can provide them, the couple also takes stock of their relationship.

Childs, the producing artistic director of 1812 Productions, and Greer are partners on stage and off. Besides both performers having celebrated solo careers, the couple has performed and created works together at 1812 Productions, Arden Theatre Company, Cape May Stage, and many more.

That deep personal connection is shown in the way the actors interact on stage. Timing and side glances and sighs and exasperations all feel very real to the audience. There are “no bars” or “hotspots” at the cabin so this typical modern couple must converse without modern distractions. The only outside voice is from DJ Skip on WJUL, whose bad jokes and anachronistic playlist constantly add a bit of humor to the situation.

But the lead characters provide plenty of great jokes and physical gags themselves. From Ronnie making one-point lists – plus the ever-growing IOU list to reimburse the owners of the cabin – to Michael gradually revealing his kinks (with help from a prop box), there’s always something happening on stage holding your attention.

The soon-to-be newlyweds discuss past successes, current failures, and future desires. Their banter ebbs and flows from normal, banal topics to conquering personal fears to upending societal norms. It’s a contemporary play and the topics are relevant but delivered with biting wit.

The main theme of the show can be summarized by a burst of dialog when Ronnie posits that maybe being married instead of just being together will lead to boredom. She says she knows what buttons to push now. Michael counters that they’ll find “new buttons to push” and they will be better for the growth. As he puts it, they are already feeling “the seven-year itch times two” but he is happy. No need to radically change what they’re doing now…maybe just tweak a few things here and there.

Michael’s statement “All of this will clear up and we’ll be fine” takes on a double meaning when considering the storm swirling outside and the reckoning happening inside the cabin – i.e., there will be resolution.

The production is directed by multi-time Barrymore Award winner Matt Pfieffer, whose work has appeared at Arden Theatre Company, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Exile, People’s Light, and many others. The three scenes are nicely segmented and compartmentalized. Pfieffer keeps the movement and dialog moving, but not so fast as to miss the point.

The performance schedule of The Flatlanders is: Wednesdays (2:00pm), Thursdays (7:00pm), Fridays (8:00pm), Saturdays (2:00 & 8:00pm), and Sundays (2:00pm) through May 5. Tickets start at $32 while discounts are available for students, groups, and military members/veterans. The show runs approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. 

There will be pre-show Viewpoints on Wednesdays at 1:15pm during the run, plus talkbacks after Thursday performances. The April 27 2:00pm performance includes American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. 

Call 302.594.1100 or visit DelawareTheatre.org to purchase tickets or for performance information. Delaware Theatre Company is located at 200 Water Street in Wilmington.

Don’t be a “DQ” and make plans to catch this show!

1 comment:

  1. In Hinjewadi, Pune, Gera Winds of Joy redefines residential life and establishes new standards for comfort, convenience, and luxury. It provides a haven away from the bustle of the city where people can live, laugh, and love thanks to its brilliant architecture, lifestyle amenities, and unmatched experience. Gera Winds of Joy welcomes those seeking a new chapter in their lives, be they a family seeking a loving home for their children or a young professional searching for a place to call home.

    ReplyDelete