In their first production, the Red Rover Theatre Company presents “Red Rover” written by John C. Davenport, the story of four 30-year-old men in 1983 reminiscing about their old day’s in high school, most doing so unwillingly with the exception of Dennis.
Played by Tedd Saint-James, Dennis drags his three old high school buddies in his rusty red convertible through their dilapidated town in a tour of weather-beaten places they used to visit as kids. Although the four never formed a group and only hung around Dennis individually, Dennis figures they can put any old animosities behind them and just enjoy the night.
But their evening is far from perfect.
Unfortunately, neither was the production’s night. Saint-James was actually covering for the actor who was originally cast to play Dennis after he had become sick with the flu. Saint-James came on stage with a script in his hand and at times delivered a stuttering and halting performance.
But even though he did not know the lines and had to rely heavily on the script, his performance was good enough that the script was not a distraction. Still, I wish the original actor, unnamed, a speedy recovery in time for Thursday’s showing.
Saint-James’ spontaneous performance, however, did highlight some unnatural dialogue in the script. He stumbled through his lines rarely, surprising considering the circumstances, but when he did it was because of bulky overly-theatrical phrases.
This is a story of four men basically shooting the s**t on a boy’s night out. Starting a sentence with “I had arrived” or “As I recall” doesn’t feel natural in the context. It might seem overly critical to point out these lines but when they were recited one after another the play slowed down some.
But the script, as rigid as it was at times, was not enough to hold the actors back. Fox Rain Matthews, who played coke-fueled lawyer and spoiled rich brat, Fletcher, delivered an explosive performance that at times dominated the scene. One minute, Matthews is yelling at his fellow passengers and at others he’s jumping on top of the shotgun seat.
Matthew Edwards, who played sarcastic drug-addict and ‘lovable degenerate,’ Ax, also stole the show with his deliberately monotone and dazed reading. The hardest laughs from the audience came from Edwards’ lines, especially when Ax mocked the uptight Fletcher. At one point, Ax called Fletcher “small and insignificant like a Vienna sausage.”
Though the performance was less than ideal, in part due to circumstance, “Red Rover” still offers an enjoyable night out of theatre. I recommend that you attend if only to support this promising new theatre company in their next production.
Red Rover, by John C. Davenport. Slate Theater, 815 Seattle Blvd. S. (Inscape Arts Building). Thurs – Sat 7:30 PM, through Oct 15. Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2602174 Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/186820855061800/