Theatre Review: “Detroit”
Lisa D’Armour’s “Detroit,” presented by Cadence Theatre Company and directed by Anna Johnson, centers around suburban couple Mary, played by Laine Satterfield, and Ben, played by Larry Cook. Ben has recently been laid off from his job and is supposedly working on a website which he hopes will launch his career as a financial advisor. Mary works as a paralegal who apparently has a bit of a drinking problem.
Act One starts with Ben and Mary entertaining their new neighbors, Sharon, played by Chris Lindsay-Abaire, and her husband Kenny, played by Landon Nagel. We quickly find out that Sharon and Kenny are recovering drug addicts who met in rehab. Kenny’s aunt recently passed away and the couple has temporarily moved into the old house next to Mary and Ben while they look for something more permanent.
The two couples bond fairly quickly with the girls planning a camping trip in Act Two. When the two end up not making it to the campsite due to car trouble, they turn around and come home and the couples decide to have a raging party which eventually descends into tragedy.
D’Armour presents a captivating commentary on the evolution of the concept of neighborhoods and the comradery that used to be experienced between neighbors. With all of the distractions available to us now it’s so much easier to just keep our heads down and go about our business. Ben openly acknowledges that he and Mary don’t have any friends, possibly explaining why they clung so quickly to their new neighbors.
Satterfield gives a fantastic performance as Mary, who unfortunately is being lied to by basically everyone in her life. She does an amazing job of connecting with the audience; you feel so much sympathy with her character. Cook is perfect as the square-ish uptight Ben. Nagel’s Kenny is kind of your typical bro with a short fuse. D’Armour’s male characters in “Detroit” do not have very much substance as Ben and Kenny are just all around not very likable.
I feel that D’Armour paid much more attention to the development of her female characters, which is actually refreshing as that is sadly pretty rare in theatre. Chris Lindsay-Abaire is oddly charming as the flighty Sharon who pretty much does and says whatever she wants. Her portrayal is thrilling and authentic.
The weaknesses in this play have nothing to do with the actors portraying the roles, but more to do with the script. I found it to be rather weak. The conversations seem forced and awkward and the message is confusing. Not saying a happy ending is needed here, but it’s not great to leave a show feeling like almost every character is an awful liar with little to no redeeming qualities.
Brian Barker’s set is impressive as usual, transforming the stage of Theatre Gym into a suburban backyard with amazing attention to detail. Anna Johnson give strong direction as has come to be expected from her, unfortunately the script lacks depth.
“Detroit” is playing at Theatre Gym through May 24th.
www.cadencetheatre.org for details
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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