Wednesday, January 14, 2015

reviews SHIFTING GEARS Theater Works

For more information on this production that runs through February 1st, click here.

"In retrospect, not much happens in Richard Warren's new play, Shifting Gears. This slice of life family drama, set in 1961, covers conversations and events over three holiday weekends at the Michigan lakeside cottage where a middle-class family spends their summers. What ends up resonating in this otherwise lightweight play is the focus on the changes that parents and children find they must make in order to survive. Theater Works' capable production has a fine cast and solid direction.   Henry and his wife Annie bought the cabin as a place to spend family vacations. But now that their children are growing up they find that the kids would prefer to be somewhere else. As the next generation changes, and shifts their gears into drive, Henry wants things to be the way they are with everyone staying in neutral.   Director Daniel Schay has crafted realistic performances and relationships from the foursome, with an established sense of familiarity with the touches, glances, and expressions they give to each other. You clearly believe this is a family.   Shifting Gears may not be a perfect play but it is one that makes you think about your own views, thoughts, and the way you treat your family. That's the most important part of theatre, isn't it, to make you think?" -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"It's the Greatest Generation versus the baby boomers in "Shifting Gears," a new family dramedy by Valley playwright Richard Warren.  For the audience, though, the battle is less than epic.  There are some mild laughs along the way, usually at Henry's expense. His take on social issues, for example, is less than sophisticated: "If everybody helps themselves, then no one will need help."   We've seen all this before, however, and with more spark. As the out-of-touch patriarch holding on too tight, Henry is a familiar figure and lacks that something extra to make him more sympathetic, or at least more interesting — the resilient verve of Tevye, say, or the irascible snark of Archie Bunker. (Making matters worse, Gaxiola's whiny take on the character makes him even less appealing.)  While "Shifting Gears" lacks dramatic tension, it also lacks subtlety." -Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

"Richard Warren's Shifting Gears is an intelligent and poignant portrait of an American family in transition. Played out on the stage of Theater Works and astutely directed by Daniel Schay, it is a poignant and stirring reminder of our vulnerability and humanity in the face of forces, generational and otherwise, beyond our control.   Frank Gaxiola (Henry) delivers a stirring portrayal of a father fundamentally committed to the centrality of family and unyielding in his efforts to retain control of the uncontrollable. Perplexed by his children's preferences, stressed by the tight financial condition of his sheet metal business, and haunted by wartime memories, Henry's tightly screwed life unravels. The family's tensions move like tectonic plates. The ground beneath Harry and crew shifts slowly and unnoticeably and then, one fine day, quakes and displaces all the premises and rules of their road. We are sure to reflect on their experience, its relevance and implications, well beyond the performance. Thank you, Mr. Warren!" -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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