The world of professional wrestling is an absurd one, and the world of womenâ€™s professional wrestling is even more absurd.
So if you are going perform a play about womenâ€™s professional wrestling, itâ€™s a good idea to determine whether the characters are going to be real people or caricatures.
Thatâ€™s one of the problems afflicting "Cementville," the dark comedy by Jane Martin that opened at UWMâ€™s Peck School of the Arts over the weekend and runs again Thursday, March 6 though Sunday, March 9.
The play takes place in a seedy locker room in Cementville, Tenn., with a bunch of has-been and never-will-be lady wrestlers, along with assorted other characters (in the truest sense of the word).
The ladies have problems. Boy, do they have problems. Some of them havenâ€™t been paid. Some are injured and have doubts about going on. Some act like the whole thing like is a real athletic competition, much to the derision of the other wrestlers. One is so fat she canâ€™t even help arrange the Â locker room.
There are lesbians, oversexed tarts, a naive young girl subject to almost any offer, jealous ladies and a pair of sex bomb sisters dressed in red, white and blue. There are adults and teenagers and crazy people and people who are on a one-way highway to crazy.
The production was directed by Michael Cotey, who directed a memorable production of "Cartoon" for Youngblood Theatre in 2012. In that production, Cotey â€“ one of the hottest and most respected young directors around â€“ proved that he has more than a nodding acquaintance with wild and crazy characters.
In this one, though, Cotey doesnâ€™t have as much to work with.
The first problem he has is the script. Itâ€™s confusing whether we are supposed to take these people seriously or whether we should look at them only as broadly drawn actors in some kind of farce.
If they are supposed to be real people, then we need better reasons to care about them. They seem almost too much of a stereotype. If they are part of a farce, then they need to be broader in their portrayals, and they need to react to each other and to their circumstances with more clarity. Subtlety is not part of a farce.Â
The second problem Cotey has is typically unavoidable in a college production with 14 roles. College actors are still feeling their way through being on a stage in front of a live audience, and some are further along than others. Thatâ€™s what you see in this production. Some of the actors are truly invested in their roles, have grasped the intricacies of finding a place for a character and stick to it. Too many actors in the cast, however, need seasoning, and that only comes with time.
The play has a number of funny moments, but comedy in a play requires two things: good timing and making sure the funny lines get some attention. There were simply too many pauses between lines, and some of the humor lines were just thrown away.
"Cementville" leaves something to be desired, but itâ€™s worth the price to see some of the young people who will eventually graduate into the lively theater scene in Milwaukee.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published July 26, 2016
Being an Uber driver in Milwaukee is a one-of-a-kind experience that lets Dave Begel meet some of the most interesting people, residents as well as visitors to the city. Find out where Begel took guests in the latest installment of Tales of the Road.
Published July 21, 2016
So the nightmare is true and Donald Trump actually may be president. The whole thing has made Dave Begel wonder about prominent conservatives in Wisconsin and whether they will support Trump. It turns out that they are split on the nomination.
Published July 19, 2016
Summer theater in Wisconsin usually means Spring Green or Door County. But there are several summer productions that look interesting and that range from the classical to the experimental, both indoors and under the stars of Milwaukee.
Published July 14, 2016
People say that America is more divided now than ever, but it was less than a lifetime ago when this country was torn apart by the quest for civil rights and the drive to end the war in Vietnam. Those times were full of violent demonstrations.
Published July 12, 2016
The Milwaukee Rep has announced a unique training program for teenage actors in the city, as part of the company's commitment to stimulating dialogue and creating engagement opportunities revolving around social issues facing the city.
Published July 8, 2016
They looked just like any other happy couple coming out of Summerfest when I picked them up at the staging area. But once they got into the car, the tension was obvious, and eventually, it boiled over.
Published July 5, 2016
All of the arts enable us to see things, especially in ourselves, we might otherwise miss. I have an idea, and it's something that could help brand Milwaukee better than any flag, slogan or video. Let's make Milwaukee the epicenter of the world for public art.
Published June 30, 2016
Now that the OSPP has exploded in mid-air like the Big Bang fireworks, the question is where do we go from here? The plan, which many saw as the right wing continuing to try and chip away at MPS, didn't have much of a chance of working.
Published June 30, 2016
Being an Uber driver in Milwaukee is a one-of-a-kind experience that lets Dave Begel meet some interesting people, residents and visitors to the city. Everybody has a story, and Tales of the Road will highlight some of those stories.
Published June 29, 2016
The city has agreed to cut a check for $968,331.75 after losing its lawsuit at trial and again in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals after the initial verdict. The amount covers both the damage award and attorney fees.