Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Pumpkin Pie Show: Commencement

Hanna Cheek, one of the downtown scene's leading lights, is a remarkable performer whose work continues to grow richer. Here she carefully delineates three distinct characters: a mother going through a mother's worst nightmare; a bookish high school student; and a second mother who shares the nightmare but from a very different point of view. Clay McLeod Chapman's monologues rarely fail to grip in some way, but these taken together have a power greater than the sum of their parts. Not just a series of absorbing sketches, Commencement builds until it takes the form of a multi-character drama with a real plot, which concerns the aftermath of a horrific event in the life of an American town that's only technically fictional. While Clay McLeod Chapman's pieces can be read as short stories, the Pumpkin Pie shows are as far from literary readings as Greek drama is from NPR's "Selected Shorts." Presented on stage, these serious tales deliver old-fashioned catharsis in a big way.

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