The Whitmores First Draft Reviews

Here is where you can post your reviews of the production of The Whitmores.

3 Comments on “The Whitmores First Draft Reviews

  1. The once place where murder can be funny; the theater. And on January 29th, a room of people laughed as the complicated new story of Whitmore put the funny into sadistic killing. The previous location of the play had been closed off due to the after effects of storm Juno, and was hence moved into a conference room where the KCACFT festival was taking place. And unfortunately, this location is a plays worst nightmare. Walking in you see hotel chairs lined in rows, filled with people who seemed ready to sit in on a workshop or boring lecture. Stale celling lights, uncomfortably warm air, with only 5 hotel chairs and an ottoman to dress the set. It’s evident everyone felt bad for the actors, their hard work reduced to a small bingo hall. So it was astounding to see how well they turned their situation around. Over the top personalities had the audience going every 5 minutes in the first act. The actors had such good spirit and facials, that even silent moments had the crowed going; from the actors bulging eye ball stares, to the calmness and carelessness of someone being shot in the foot. However not all the actors had such a smooth run through. The actor playing Dale was distractingly monotone, and it was questionable whether it was on purpose or not. Even the more emotional parts seemed not as believable as they could be, despite the great facials the Dale actor put on. The audience was informed that 3/5ths of the actors were re-casted within a short period of time, which may be why the Dale character stood out, knowing this information. The small space led to the actors not “on stage” to sit patiently in the back waiting for their lines. It was noticeable that even they were laughing at the funny moments in the play. The actor of Frank, though stumbled over lines very noticeably, was amazingly convincing. Every action, word, and vocal dip and rise was so believable and well executed, I’d be amazing to hear him speak to us out of character. Same for the actress playing his wife, together they nailed the typical rich sitcom couple from the city. No matter what they were talking about you could listen to them babble for hours, which came in great use to bring the audience into the story, despite the displeasing set. With no props aside some guns and a bottle of alcohol, the actors stayed committed to their actions, continuing on with their invisible props. The most noticeable being when all three actors “trip” over a table that wasn’t even there at the time, but was meant to be, had they had all their props. The actors dived down onto the ground, with no fear of getting hurt, and it got a huge roar of laughter from the audience. What seemed surprising, was the quick turn over from downright horrible and cruel atmosphere, back to witty humor, that left a bad unidentifiable feeling inside. But great credit should be noted that this play did provoke a feeling. The play kept the audience wanting to know more with its subtle secrets, and the ending the audience gives a creative ending, leaving you wanting to know more. There are some issues to mention with the sound. Sound and lighting bounce off each other and having one and not the other is a great adversity to handle. Choosing to keep the dark glooming sound without the accompaniment of the light, seemed to not be the best choice. It seemed almost random and unexpected when you would hear a lighting crack of a thunder bash, because the lighting was so bright and stale, unable to be changed. It would almost seem better to have not had sound at all, where sound and lighting need to work together to create a successful atmosphere. Despite downgrading to the bear minimum, this new play really left the audience with a good first impression, hoping to see it in its rightful place on a stage.

  2. “The Whitmores”, a new play written by Ben Ducoff and directed by Michael Hammond, is loaded with bold artistic choices. This dark comedy tackles issues ranging from class and racial differences as well as the way one person’s choices can irrevocably change another’s life. Its tone shifts from cartoonish levity to deadly seriousness, and sometimes it juggles both. Often, these choices work well, but unfortunately they also often don’t. The play is a flawed piece of work, but in many ways it’s one that is easy to respect.

    Tom and Mary Whitmore, a white upper-class couple, are in the midst of a gated-community crisis. Fed up with their overbearing neighborhood organizers, they plan to kill Sue McGovern, the community’s leader, and her husband. To have the killings done they hire Dale, a black former hit-man trying to make a better life for his wife and their upcoming child, and what results is a catastrophic dinner party in which the characters’ ideologies and personalities collide and explode.

    The reason the above characters’ races are worth mentioning is that racial issues have much to do with the core of the play. Dale, having been denied through poverty the chance to make his own “American dream” come true, finds himself slipping back into his old ways as he’s tempted by the $17,000 offered by the Whitmores. What seems like a quest for personal vengeance for the Whitmores grows into a bizarre campaign to overthrow the entire white bourgeoisie system that has the neighborhood in its clutches and start the whole thing anew.

    These themes can be powerful if deftly weaved into a text, but The Whitmores tends to eschew that subtle approach and instead makes absolutely sure that the audience realizes what it’s trying to say. Occasionally, this led to the show feeling more like a social diatribe than drama, though some of the information provided was necessary to understand what the characters were driving at with their actions. Sometimes there really isn’t a subtle way to deliver the facts an audience might not be aware of, and the play does a good job when this is the only route available.

    On a more positive note, it’s undeniable that the play is very funny, which works in its favor almost all of the time. Leah McLoughlin as Mary Whitmore is especially hilarious. She gives her character bizarre vocal and physical quirks that, strangely, only make it seem more believable that a person like this could exist in real life. A character like that can steal the audience’s focus if not checked, and while the performers clearly know that audiences react well to her, she luckily didn’t take over the entire show. Tom Whitmore is also memorable as portrayed by the play’s writer, Ben Ducoff, who portrays the character with a remarkable blend of charisma and obnoxiousness. This dual nature accentuates how he treats Dale: both as an ally and potential criminal collaborator and as a pawn to be callously exploited.

    One unfortunate casualty is the character of Dale, who by all indications the play puts into the most challenging moral position. His performer, H. Grant Meacham, unfortunately doesn’t do the character’s internal struggle much justice, seeming generally more like a blank slate until these emotional conflicts bubble over into violence. All of this, however, doesn’t end up meaning much if the audience can’t latch on to Dale. In a way, he’s the only “real” human being in a world full of strange caricatures, meaning that it’s hard to buy into the rest of the play’s world unless the audience can empathize with him. Sometimes it’s easy to, but often it’s quite a bit harder. It was occasionally difficult to tell why he made certain hard decisions so easily, and the somewhat-too-subtle expressions on his face made probing his psyche that much more difficult.

    “The Whitmores” isn’t hopeless, far from it. It’s an intriguing show with a lot of tantalizing qualities, but it doesn’t seem to have its blend of human drama, social commentary, and dark wit quite right yet. One should take into account that, during their KCACTF performance, the cast and crew was working without their usual set, or lighting, or even most of their props! Regardless of these handicaps, though, it’s clear that the show hasn’t quite realized its potential yet. Perhaps with some tinkering and a little time, it can reach the potential hinted at by its most dramatic and hilarious scenes.

  3. The once place where murder can be funny is the theater. And on January 29th, a room full of people laughed as the complicated new story of “The Whitmores” put the funny into sadistic killing. The previous location of the play had been closed off due to the after effects of storm Juno, and was moved into a conference room where the KC/ACTF festival was taking place. Unfortunately, this location is a plays worst nightmare. Walking in you see hotel chairs lined in rows, filled with people who seemed ready to sit in on a workshop or boring lecture. Stale celling lights, uncomfortably warm air, with only 5 hotel chairs and an ottoman to dress the set. Everyone felt sympathy for the actors, their hard work reduced to a small bingo hall. So it was astounding to see how well they turned their situation around. Over the top personalities had the audience laughing every 5 minutes in the first act. The actors had such good spirit and facial expressions, that even silent moments had the crowd surprised; from the actors bulging eyeball stares, to the carelessness of someone being shot in the foot. However not all the actors had such a smooth run through.
    The actor playing Dale had a distractingly monotone delivery, and it was questionable whether it was on purpose or not. Even the more emotional parts seemed not as believable as they could be, despite the great facial expressions the actor put on. The audience was informed that 3/5ths of the actors were re-cast within a short period of time, which may be why the Dale character stood out. The small space led the actors not “on stage” to sit patiently in the back waiting. It was noticeable that even they were laughing at the funny moments in the play. The actor playing Frank was an amazingly convincing Italian man. Every action, word, and vocal dip and rise was so believable and well executed, I’d be amazing to hear him speak to us out of character.
    Same for the actress playing his wife, together they nailed the typical rich sitcom couple from the city. No matter what they were talking about you could listen to them babble for hours, which came in great use to bring the audience into the story, despite the displeasing set. With no props aside some guns and a bottle of alcohol, the actors stayed committed to their actions, continuing on with their invisible props. The most noticeable being when all three actors “trip” over a table that wasn’t even there at the time, but was meant to be, had they had all their props.
    The actors dived down onto the ground, with no fear of getting hurt, and it got a huge roar of laughter from the audience. What seemed surprising, was the quick turn over from downright horrible and cruel atmosphere, back to witty humor, that left a bad unidentifiable feeling inside. But great credit should be noted that this play did provoke a feeling. The play kept the audience wanting to know more with its subtle secrets, and creative ending. Sound and lighting must work together to create the right mood, and having one without other is a great adversity to handle. Choosing to keep the dark gloomy sound without the accompaniment of the light, seemed to not be the best choice. It seemed almost random and unexpected when you would hear a thunder and lightning, because the ceiling lights were so bright and stale. It would almost seem better to have not had sound at all, where sound and lighting need to work together to create a successful atmosphere. Despite downgrading to the bear minimum, this new play left the audience with a good first impression, hoping to see it in its rightful place on a stage.

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