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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Actors’ Summit’s ‘Fiction’ challenges with questions of truth

1/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

From left, Sally Groth, Cassandra Capocci and Bob Keefe star in Actors’ Summit Theater’s production of “Fiction.”
Photo courtesy of Actors’ Summit Theater
DOWNTOWN AKRON — What is truth? The answer to that question is the backbone of “Fiction,” now playing at Actors’ Summit Theater through Feb. 3.

Playwright Stephen Dietz has developed a reputation in the Akron area. Actors’ Summit performed his play, “Becky’s New Car,” in the past and Weathervane Playhouse, at the end of last year, offered Dietz’s “Shooting Star.”

In “Fiction,” Dietz takes on the challenge of questioning the source of truth. The story involves three adult characters. Linda Waterman (Sally Groth) is a well-known author who teaches writing in a university. She is married to Michael Waterman (Bob Keefe), a writer she describes as a “hack,” because he sells his novels to the movies.

As the play opens, the husband and wife are involved in a pseudo-intellectual discussion about hit rock ’n roll music.

Earlier, Michael was accepted at the Drake Writers’ Conference, where he met Abby Drake (Cassandra Capocci), who manages the conference.

As the plot unfolds, the playwright reveals that Linda has attended the Drake Conference a year or two before her husband and met Abby there.

At the Drake Conference, someone told a story about a visit to South Africa and a rape. That story became the backbone of Linda’s successful novel.

It seems simple enough to discover who has been to South Africa and who is lying. But, these characters make the story more complicated than an inspection of their passports.

As part of their game playing, Linda and Michael permit the other to read his/her private journals. This brings chaos to their lives and their marriage. What in the journals is truth and what might be notes for a story or book?

Who is telling the truth? Does it matter if someone gets a successful novel out of the truth or lie?

The playwright makes the story difficult to follow by slipping from the present to several scenes in other times. The playwright manipulates his characters so their guilt turns them on themselves and one can’t decide who has been hurt the most. At one point, the playwright turns a major plot point and indicates that issue doesn’t exist any longer. Is the playwright challenging the audience to find the truth?

Groth makes the best-selling author arrogant in her star turns as a professor.

Keefe creates a character who has professional success, yet he thinks of himself as a wanna-be writer.

Capocci creates a character who is angry most of the time. Her Abby is so unlikeable that I grew to dread her entrances. Some variety in her character might make her role more interesting and the story more challenging.

The playwright provides details about writers’ conferences that indicate he has participated in those kinds of conferences. He plays word games throughout the script.

Unfortunately, this production isn’t satisfying. The problems lie in the roller-coaster-like plot and the character development on the stage.

For ticket information, call 330-374-7568.

 

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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