Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review - In Loco Parentis (New York International Fringe Festival)

By Byrne Harrison

Carly (Kristin Katherine Shields) is a bright and vulnerable high school student who has suffered the loss of her mother. Mr. Browning (Desmond Dutcher) is her English teacher, a man with a sarcastic bent, but one who truly seems to care about reaching his students. When his class begins to study Hamlet, he sees his chance to engage Carly about her mother's death, something even her father (Marc Geller) has been unable to do.

But will his attempts to break through her reticence push her away for good or draw her too close?

Playwright Michael DeVito clearly draws on his experiences as an English teacher to create the well-written characters of Browning, Carly, and the slacker student, Ravi (Kareem M. Lucas). He has a good ear for dialogue and does an excellent job with the subtle shifts in power between the characters. Director Jonathan Warman keeps the production tight and interesting. But it is the work of lead actors Desmond Dutcher and Kristin Katherine Shields that keeps this play riveting. Dutcher is spot on as the slightly bored teacher who finds himself fascinated by and somewhat attracted to his smart, but damaged student. Shields as Carly shows impressive range as her character tentatively comes to grips with her mother's death and her feeligns about it. Dutcher excels in particular during the final scene of the play, a reunion between the now divorced Browning and the college-aged Carly. It's a scene that requires a great deal of vulnerability on Dutcher's part, and he handles it masterfully.

In Loco Parentis is a solid play, well-performed and directed, and one that should be on your Fringe viewing list.

In Loco Parentis
Written by Michael DeVito
Directed by Jonathan Warman
Lighting Designer: Yuriy Nayer
Scenic Designer: Maggie Pilat

Featuring: Desmond Dutcher (Mr. Browning), Marc Geller (Oliver), Kareen M. Lucas (Ravi), Kristin Katherine Shields (Carly Price)

VENUE #4: 4th Street Theatre

Sat 14 @ 7:45
Sun 15 @ 5:45
Fri 20 @ 4
Thu 26 @ 2
Sat 28 @ 2

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