Monday, January 23, 2017

reviews - 3 NO TRUMP - Theater Works

(front) Susan Sindelar; (back, left to right) Marylou Stephens, Kandyce Hughes, Kimberly Phelps, and Jodie Weiss
photo by Wade Moran
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 January 29.

" For many years Phoenix based actress and playwright Cathy Dresbach's mother was a participant in bi-weekly bridge games. The eight ladies in her bridge group kept a journal to chronicle the events of each evening's game and the highs and lows in each of the ladies' lives. Dresbach has fashioned the journal entries into a comical drama entitled 3 No Trump which is having its world premiere at Theater Works in Peoria in a well-cast production that portrays the power and strength of friendship.
Dresbach's play focuses on five of the women in this bridge group including her mother Shirley. ...They struggle, bicker and cling to each other as they endure and relish the impact and joys of sickness and health, marriages, divorces and grandchildren. While the play is a fun and ultimately moving portrait of these women and has realistic dialogue, there are a few small problems. It doesn't have much of a plot ...and doesn't really deliver richly detailed characters that could make it truly exceptional, though it still makes for a fine play that has many laughs and a beautiful poignancy. Also, there are many world events that occurred during the period the play is set yet none of the major ones, including the impact of September 11th, are mentioned...(which) keeps the play slightly more grounded and less worldly....Director Debra K. Stevens has assembled a talented cast and stages the action quite effectively to ensure the comic moments deliver big laughs and the more emotional scenes resonate with a moving tenderness. As Phyllis, Susan Sindelar brings a feistiness to this no-nonsense woman who says exactly what she feels. Jodie Weiss is lovely as the frugal Shirley while Kimberly Phelps is rough and lively as the Phoenix Suns loving Marge. Marylou Stephens is very good as the worrying, concerned and motherly Sarah, while Kandyce Hughes adds moments of style and grace as the always impeccably dressed, elegant and refined Bobby Jo. It is a true ensemble play with each actress delivering an effective portrayal with naturally delivered dialogue. Creative elements are quite effective. Brett Aiken's set design...evokes the late 1970s / early 1980s living rooms that many of us grew up in and know very well. Cari Smith's period costumes and Brenda Goodenberger's hair and make-up designs work well to portray these very different women as they age over the twenty-year span of the show. ...While 3 No Trump may not be a completely perfect play, it does feature realistic people and dialogue and characters that are identifiable. Theater Works' cast, direction and creative aspects deliver a production that brings these five women and their shared experiences vibrantly to life." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"Cathy Dresbach’s world premiere comedy at Theater Works, “3 No Trump,”.... is an innocuous comedy about five women who play bridge every two weeks from 1984 to 2003.  It is based on a group that included the playwright’s mother.  It isn’t a masterpiece and has so many local references that it can’t have much life beyond local theaters. Like most new plays, “3 No Trump” needs work.  Some characters babble unnecessarily about their shallow lives but the play does deal tenderly with a member’s passing.  ...Debra K. Stevens direction could be sharper to further reduce the running time but the performers playing the women create five distinctive portrayals. ...“3 No Trump” is amusing but undistinguished as it gives audiences a heartfelt look at women stuck in time hoping nothing rocks their boat.  " --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"...The play is also almost entirely plot-free, but you don’t mind so much thanks to winning performances by a cast directed by Childsplay ensemble member Debra K. Stevens. Jodie Weiss is endearing as Shirley,...while Susan Sindelar keeps the pace crackling as Phyllis... It's not quite a hankie-fest on the level of “Steel Magnolias,” but it plucks at the heartstrings. " Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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