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The Play-Goer: Twin Beach Players’ Certain Souls

Five out of Five Licks

photo courtesy of Twin Beach Players / Eight actors give outstanding performances – and they have to. Monologues tend to demand that.

       Under the direction of Jeff Larson, this Twin Beach Players theater treat, Certain Souls, written by New York Times editor Ken Jaworoski, is as warm, as buttery smooth and as salty as a bag of crisp, freshly popped popcorn can be. You might even lick your fingers from the back row.

         Eight actors give outstanding performances – and they have to. Monologues tend to demand that. Lighting is mostly and purposely spot-upon them, and props are at a minimum with backdrops brought forward, thrusting the actor’s introspections upon the close-sitting and eager audience.

         Each tale shares a central theme yet each is as different as the next, making it seem like a variety event for a special cause with a single purpose: exploring the meaning of Certainty. We certainly know what certainty is, don’t we? Well …

         That’s the thing about Jaworoski’s play: Nothing is truly certain, not the character’s motivations nor their confessions. But Larson’s players pull it off from the beginning.

         Did the vagrant rattling his cup in the street worry you as you entered? As the lights dim, the ching, ching, chang of the coins came rattling down the front aisle as Warren (Tom Wines) makes his plea to the audience for spare change. During his conversation, he begins to ask for less and to give more. The certainty of his plight changes as more of his soul is revealed. Get it? This goer was hooked by then.

         Charlie (Justin McCright) followed with a slick tale about a gambler who has a rough night at the tables. Or does he? Then John (Tom Weaver) forfeits his job with a bang and gains the distinction of nearly stealing the show. Weaver certainly takes the Buttery-Topping award with his convincing smoothness on stage.

         Just before intermission we are treated to a powerfully moving performance from Dot (Cheryl Thompson), a woman who knows what she wants in a man — even if no one else can see how much he means to her. Thompson wins the show’s Warmth award for drawing us into the life of someone we’d all like to know and rescue.

         The second set of souls are as certain as the first. At least until they aren’t certain any longer. With each portrayal you feel as if you’re given a glance inside Jaworoski’s mind, perhaps insight into some of the personal confessions he’s made during his life. Then you realize they are not simply his confessions at all. They are shared certainties mistaken for truths by the actors and by the audience alike. 

         What would a good variety show be without comedy? No worries. The second half more than delivers with Bridget (Terri McKinstry), a woman looking for the ticket out of her marriage, and an equally propelling Luke (Luke Woods) who pleads with his wife to let him come home. Or does he?

         There’s a hint of shtick with the final two offerings as the hilarious doctor/attorney/hospital-liaison/lying two-faced/we’re here for you/look-on-the-bright-side Dr. Fishburne, (Abby Thibeault), comforts a patient after a mistake is made in the operating room and Trish (Kate Harrison) meets someone possibly worthy of her attention in a bar. Harrison wins the Salty award for the hottest performance by an actress playing a real person.

         Interspersed throughout the evening is music, selected songs that meld all the themes together like the bag that holds the popcorn. Nothing goes to waste.

         Yes, the Twin Beach Players are worth your visit. They put on a delightful, well-planned, superbly acted, finely crafted story from curtain to curtain, one worthy for any Certain Soul. I think.

 

April 12-14, FSa 8pm, Su 3pm, Twin Beach Players, North Beach Boys & Girls Club, 9021 Dayton Ave., North Beach, $15 w/discounts, rsvp: www.twinbeachplayers.org.