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 June 24, 2016
"Thank You, Next," with music by Tim Rebers and lyrics by Alicia Berneche, opens as Milwaukee Opera Theatre and artistic director Jill Anna Ponasik continue to redefine what opera means, staging provocative and very relatable productions.
Published June 23, 2016
It may not be possible to be any more revolted by the Republican Party than I am right now. This week Senate Republicans, including our Sen. Ron Johnson, turned down a couple of serious attempts to enact minor laws designed to help control gun violence.
Published June 21, 2016
The Milwaukee Ballet is celebrating this summer after seeing a 15 percent boost in attendance and record revenue of $2.3 million, proving that high-quality work will capture attention - and, perhaps most importantly, dollars - in Milwaukee.
Published June 20, 2016
Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" receives a spectacular, blistering treatment at American Players Theater in Spring Green. There are many who claim this is the greatest of all American plays and, after seeing this production, it'd be hard to argue.
Published June 17, 2016
His name is "Tank," and he drives a big semi - one of 30 that will be in Milwaukee for Kenny Chesney's show at Miller Park Saturday night. He took my Uber ride and provided a little look into what it takes to keep a show like this one the road.
Published June 14, 2016
This may come across as a little heartless and dismissive but it's time to put a stop to the kind of hopeless junk that rose up after the horror of the massacre in Orlando. The only way to win the battle for gun control is with sophisticated politics.
Published June 14, 2016
Summer in Wisconsin offers dozens of quick trips that are filled with experiences new and memorable, and one of the best possible trips revolves around the lauded American Players Theater up in Spring Green.
Published June 13, 2016
A summerly discontent is what I was left with after seeing "The African Company Presents Richard III," the Carlyle Brown play about the first black theater company formed six years before New York abolished slavery.
Published June 11, 2016
Loss and the painful path to fill empty spaces left behind are at the heart of a lovely and warm-hearted production of "The Secret Garden" being staged at Soulstice Theatre under the direction of Artistic Director Jillian Smith.
Published June 9, 2016
In a carjacking incident last week, police arrested two 12-year-old boys, a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy. You don't have to be a public policy expert to see that the system is broken and it's going to take influence, power and money to get it fixed.