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 May 26, 2016
A kind of social media pandemonium got underway Wednesday when Viswa Subbaraman announced he was resigning as the artistic director at Skylight Music Theatre. The board will take its time, however, finding a replacement.
Published May 25, 2016
No matter how it gets spun, Milwaukee's performing arts community took a severe hit Wednesday when Viswa Subbaraman announced he was leaving his post as artistic director of the Skylight Music Theatre.
Published May 24, 2016
The Wisconsin theater season generally begins in early summer when The American Players Theatre opens in Spring Green, shortly after the previous Milwaukee season comes to an end in spring. The 2015-16 season is now over and it's time for Dave Begel's annual list of the best plays of the season.
Published May 21, 2016
Skylight's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" delivered a rollicking and laugh-filled first act. As for the second act? Unfortunately, that's where the Skylight's season finale ran out of gas.
Published May 20, 2016
There are rare moments in the life of an arts organization when something happens that is a stamp of its style and the core belief that makes it who it is. The Milwaukee Ballet unfurled a moment just like that Thursday night with "Alice (in wonderland)."
Published May 19, 2016
Demond Means, a skilled and accomplished educator, is a guy who deserves some sympathy for being caught between a rock and a hard place as he tries to move the rock. He faces tough opponents in reform efforts.
Published May 18, 2016
Somebody somewhere needs to sit me down in a corner and explain why the City of Milwaukee needs a new "People's flag" to replace the one we've had for over 60 years.
Published May 17, 2016
Septime Webre is about to step down after 17 years as artistic director of the prestigious Washington Ballet. Before then, however, he is in Milwaukee to direct his "Alice (in wonderland)" with the Milwaukee Ballet.
Published May 14, 2016
Just as First Stage produces a lot of play with messages directed at older kids - most of which can be enjoyed by adults as well - the company can also deliver for the little kids like "Lily's Purple Plastic Purse."
Published May 12, 2016
I have four grandkids, three of them boys, and I've always been fascinated by how different their little boy summers are from the little boy summers I had when I was a little boy. Not better or worse, but different.