Sunday, December 4, 2016

reviews - THE HERD - Theatre Artists Studio

Maureen Dias Watson, Michael Fleck, and Patti Davis Suarez
Photo by Mark Gluckman
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through December 11th.

"The emotional responsibility that comes with caring for a disabled child and the incredible hardship it brings is at the center of the family drama The Herd. Rory Kinnear's first play premiered in London in 2013 and is now receiving its Arizona debut from Theatre Artists Studio in a solid production that features a stellar performance by Maureen Dias Watson as the boy's anxiety ridden mother. Kinnear's plot isn't overly complicated, and a couple of the developments are foreseeable, but it still resonates with a quiet ending that packs a wallop. The setting is Carol's home, where she is preparing for a small family get together to celebrate her son Andy's 21st birthday. Since her husband Ian abandoned her, Andy, and their oldest child Claire many years ago, Carol's life has been entirely consumed with arranging and coordinating the care of her son who is severely disabled and lives full time in a care facility. ...Director Judy Rollings achieves beautiful, rich performances from her cast and keeps the pacing of the 100-minute one-act play sharp....Maureen Dias Watson is simply superb as Carol, a strong woman who has let her love for her son completely consume her, putting a burden on her relationships with the other members of her family. ...Watson's direct and focused line delivery and the raw, adept honesty and empathy she brings to every moment she is on stage makes her portrayal of this woman who is almost self-destructive in her possessiveness one of the best stage performances I've seen in a long time. Amanda Melby and Patti Davis Suarez are very good as Claire and Patricia. Melby does well in demonstrating the resentment and anger Claire still feels toward her father, ...Suarez is adept as Patricia and gets some of the best lines, delivering them in a refined way, whether they are comical or full of venom. The men don't have as much to do in the piece, which is one of the play's shortcomings, as while the women are written as nuanced, three-dimensional individuals, the men, while realistic characters, come across as underwritten and more of a second thought, with all of them taking a backseat to the much stronger female characters. ...The Herd is a smartly written and provocative drama that features truthful observations and realistic characters. Theatre Artists Studio's production highlights a talented cast and clear direction that solidly demonstrate the hardships that people who are dedicated to coping with loved ones with disabilities must face. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"If any family has a right to its dysfunctions, it’s the one that’s put under the microscope in “The Herd.” The 2013 playwriting debut of English actor Rory Kinnear ...the playwright doesn’t turn any of the characters into villains, yet he lets none of them off the hook for their decisions. And the acting here is excellent, from Patti Davis Suarez’s acerbic grandmother to (Maureen Dias) Watson’s terrifically nuanced portrayal of a woman who has carried so much weight for so long that she doesn’t know how to let go of an ounce of it.... a powerful exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes...”" Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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