Western Reserve Playhouse offering new script
|From left, Brian Westerley, Joey Vartorella and David Hinebaugh star in Western Reserve Playhouse’s “Jake’s Dilemma.”|
|Photo courtesy of Western Reserve Playhouse|
Those are the questions asked in Western Reserve Playhouse’s production of “Jake’s Dilemma,” a new play by Gregory Lavelle that is on stage through Sept. 29. This is an interesting and intriguing play.
Jake (Brian Westerley) owns and manages Jake’s Diner in the middle of nowhere — some place in Arizona. Alice (Sally Spitz) is the waitress in the diner and she’s Jake’s confidant.
Jake’s Diner is miles from any other store, diner or service station. Consequently, tourists driving by stop for a cheeseburger and a cola and maybe a piece of pie.
Several people make their way into the diner: Lil from Dallas (Jan Futhey), Ben from Chicago (Irv Korman), Elmer from Cleveland (David Hinebaugh) and others.
Finally, Joe (Jay Hill) and Mary (Beth Lee), tourists from Albany, N.Y., stop because of car problems. Jake is sure they are lying about being from New York, and he accuses them of being aliens. Joe does all he can to protect his wife and himself from Jake and his dangerous-looking pistol.
Hill, Lee and Westerley become a triumphant trio as they get every laugh Lavelle could have written into the script.
Director Deb Sweat kept the performance moving at a rapid pace. In truth, the members of the audience can’t be given much time to think about the nonsense that’s going on before them. Sweat helped the performers define themselves. Each is unique and interesting.
Westerley makes Jake paranoid enough for the audience to be skeptical of his every word. Yet, his Jake is vulnerable and sympathetic enough that I found myself cheering for him.
Westerley carries most of the show on his shoulders, and he does an excellent job with the physical comedy.
This is only the second production of “Jake’s Dilemma.” The playwright played Jake in the first production. So, this is the first production he has seen. As the script stands now, 16 characters are on stage at some point. Yes, some of the characters only speak a few lines. Lavelle would have a more successful script if he could cut some of the minor characters. I’m not sure we need to see all of the minor characters to know people visit Jake’s Diner as they drive across Arizona. Second, the scenes between Jake, Joe and May last too long and don’t move the story along as quickly as they should. Lavelle could cut 15 minutes from the script and produce a tight, bright script that could become an audience favorite in community theaters.
I recommend that Lavelle get to work on a second play. He obviously has talent as a playwright and should get on to the next script.
I also recommend theater-goers attend a performance of “Jake’s Dilemma.” You’ll find a pleasure in seeing a new script brought to life before you.
For ticket information, call 330-620-7314.
David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
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