The National New Play Network
unites non-profit theatres
in developing and producing new plays, each of which receives a "rolling
world premiere" in at least three different venues. The aim is to perfect
the work and sustain it so that it doesn't die after a single debut by a sole
creative team before just one kind of audience. Shotgun
is a play that, as presented by Florida Studio
, justifies the NNPN. It also fulfills FST's aims to "provide
audiences with challenging
contemporary drama" and to develop theatre in accord with our
"living, evolving, and dynamically changing world."
A small shotgun New Orleans duplex
(realistically designed by Bob Phillips
) puts its owner Mattie (magnetic Maya
) into a clash four months after Katrina among survivors still
suffering from its effects. Fortunately, Mattie's house is in an area untouched
directly by the storm. Unfortunately, she can't let her father Dexter (Robert
, of impressive voice), whose house in the "Lower 9th" is no
more, use the adjacent apartment. Because she has to rent it out to make money
for her mortgage,
he lives with
her. He constantly grouses about sleeping on a couch.
When white carpenter Beau (handsome, sturdy, sad
) and his high school
senior son Eugene (Tom Patterson
, tense) respond to Mattie's rental sign,
the stage is set for racial
tensions that add to other resentments.
Not only does Dexter envy Beau having work and thus the money for the apartment,
but he feels he and Mattie should stick to their "own kind". Letting
whites into the neighborhood could be dangerous as it is unfitting. Maybe the
danger will even come from Mattie's two-decades-ago boyfriend Willy (Freddie
cheesy but changeable
that name he adopted), who's been profiteering yet wants to get back in her
long lost (with good reason) favor.
Further resentments get piled on Beau from his son. Eugene
blames him for letting his mother drown
and now removing him from friends and
success on his school sports team. Despite some chance to repair their
old home, as Dexter points out to them, "Nothing's the same as it was
before the flood."
With all of Beau's life's complications, Mattie's
entrance into it had seemed a blessing at first.
Then came weighty considerations to rock their romance.
Will it stay on course?
Director Kate Alexander
sustains suspense but without
subordinating characterization to plot. Her casting is as impeccable as the
ways she assures that the characters interact. The actors do full justice to
the authentic traits and dialogue author Biguenet
His is an important play about an important subject. I believe
an interesting companion on a double
bill could be Elizabeth Gregory Wilder's
The Furniture of Home
explores the effect of Katrina on Mississippi Coast survivors. But Biguenet is
also creating a flood-related trilogy which could be presented in tandem with
's lighting and Melissa Schlachtmeyer
costumes are commendable. Kelli
effectively stage manages the 2 hour show. There is a 15 minute
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