THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

NO CAPTION

Review: Hope & Gravity | Circle Theatre


Life in an Elevator

At Circle Theatre, Michael Hollinger's Hope & Gravity will have you pushing all of the elevator buttons.



published Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Photo: Leah Layman
Jennifer Engler and Robert Michael James in Hope & Gravity at Circle Theatre

Fort Worth — There’s a reason that Hope & Gravity, directed by Harry Parker at Circle Theatre, is instantly likeable. It’s part of playwright Michael Hollinger’s plan. He makes it glisten so that you’ll listen, but the spoonful of sugar hides a bitter pill.

That this is an evening of surface-level fun is reinforced by Clare Floyd Devries' fashion-show set complete with scene title projections flanking the stage. Designer Sarah Tonemah adds easily readable costumes for the collection of instantly recognizable first-world-problem types, like characters from a soap opera, only minus the opera.

It’s only when this floating soap bubble bursts at the end that the gnawingly bleak message takes hold. The takeaway is less than nothing, as if the bubble contained a vacuum that takes meaning with it.

Photo: Leah Layman
Sophie Lee Morris
Photo: Leah Layman
Jeff Wittekiend
Photo: Leah Layman
Brad Stephens

Essentially a collection of character-connected one-act plays. The hook is that they are presented out of order, a gimmick that teases us into looking for connections and then taunts us for it.

The occasion for the first scene centers around an elevator which, as it happens, serves as the program’s cover image. Only playwright Hollinger uses this machina to get the deus ex of the play. At one point, the characters undergo an “RFT,” a “Random Floor Test.” It’s metaphor à la megaphone.

The cards of this shuffled deck are the characters. Part of the playwright’s fun is how he turns them over.

Trying to reveal as little as possible, Jill (Sophie Lee Morris) and Steve (Jeff Wittekiend) are poetry grad student roommates under professor Douglas (Robert Michael James). Steve’s girlfriend, Barb (Lexie Showalter) is the secretary to Hal (Brad Stephens) and Tanya (Jennifer Engler) is his wife. Marty (Ben Phillips) is an elevator repairman married to Nan (Susan Riley). Their dentist is Peter (Justin Flowers).

Parker’s production is mostly successful in the lighter sections. Phillips, for instance, makes a great happy-go-lucky elevator repairman. Flowers takes the show to new levels of laughs enduring a self-imposed self-help torment. Like any good sitcom, everyone gets a chance to make the audience laugh and the audience mostly obliges.

Less successful are the weightier scenes, but that might not be all the fault of the production. The playwright is taking shots at anything requiring faith (hope), after all. Not just spirituality, but anything that requires someone to believe in something larger than they are such, as marriage or education. Maybe the shallow view that created the characters limits the scenes' potential. Luckily, the laughs outweigh the losses. That is, until the final scene. What goes up…

After seven shuffles, a deck of cards is at it’s most random. It has achieved the full potential for chance. And that’s essential to keep the people at the table. After all, the game changes, the players don’t. No one would play if they didn’t believe that a fresh deal brought with it the possibility of a great hand.

What no one wants to believe is that it also brings with it the possibility of a terrible one.

Michael Hollinger doesn’t believe that the cards are stacked against us. He just wants to reinforce that the cards aren’t stacked at all. Everything is possible, which includes everything bad.

Hope, meet gravity. Thanks For Reading





Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Life in an Elevator
At Circle Theatre, Michael Hollinger's Hope & Gravity will have you pushing all of the elevator buttons.
by David Novinski

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit