Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Theatrical Review: The Gin Game

Written by: D. L. Coburn
Directed by: Midge McClosky*
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Worthington Players* production of “The Gin Game” by D. L. Coburn which is a play centering around two people placed in a nursing home who, out of boredom, begin to play a card game with one another. It is through this game we, the audience, begin to learn about the characters and of their lives prior to meeting one another. The comedy found in “The Gin Game” is often based upon the experiences one finds themselves in as they begin growing older and unfortunately this reviewer can attest many of the play’s observations are right on the mark. Yet, this production of “The Gin Game” by D. L. Coburn does receive some well deserved laughter from its audience as it reminds this reviewer something his father once said long a go. “There’s no sin in getting old. It’s just unhandy.”

The play begins as Weller Martin (as Portrayed by Rob Eilenberger Howell*) initiates a game of gin with Fonsia Dorsey (as Portrayed by Michele Frankenberg). As mentioned earlier, the conversation transpiring throughout the game reveals a great deal of the character’s history and what has led them to be residents of the nursing home they now find themselves in. However, the actual game of Gin begins to serve as a metaphor since the “deadwood” cards its players eliminate from their hands is done so in order to form the “melds” needed to win. In their own way, each character sees themselves as the deadwood discarded by their family and friends and soon demonstrate how on can choose to live with the hand one has been dealt or to complain about how the deck is stacked against them.

The acting in this production is superb. Both Rob Eilenberger Howell* and Michele Frankenberg brought a conversational tone to the production not commonly found in many scripted presentations. In fact, there were a number of occurrences throughout the production which seemed like impromptu utterances which was realized later to be a crucial element to a subsequent piece of dialogue. This phenomena is not only attributed to the considerable skill of this production’s actors, but of its director as well for her ability to encourage them to simply speak to one another and not be overly concerned with the structure of the script. Not many directors would take this approach, but it seems Ms. McClosky* did and the audience was much the better served for it.

The Worthington Players* production of “The Gin Game” by D. L. Coburn was Directed by Midge McClosky* (who also serves as the Executive Director of The Shawnee Playhouse*) and Stage Managed by Kevin E. Hillman. The Sound Technician was Marshall Haskel* and the Lighting Technician was Phillip Benefield. The Dresser and Tech Crew consisted of Soraya Jean while Costumes were provided by Missy Benefield* and the cast. The producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. Group Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn* (who also served as a member of the Box Office Staff) while The Shawnee Playhouse publicity is handled by Amy Cramer*. The Box office staff includes Becky Haskell and Lillian Gonzalez*.

This production of “The Gin Game” by D. L. Coburn will continue its run at The Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until November 8th and is highly recommended as a great play to laugh and consider how one is playing the game they are living in. The next Shawnee Playhouse* in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presentations will be “An O. Henry Christmas” November 20th - December 20th along with their Children Theatre productions of “Winnie the Pooh” November 28th - December 21st, “Kids Kabaret” December 26th and 27th, and a Magic Show for Kids on December 28th. A performance of “The Nutcracker” will take place December 6th - 21st and a New Year’s Eve Special will take place December 31st. Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $2.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse* Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse* at 570-421-5093 or Explore their website at www.theshawneeplayhouse.com for more information and to reserve your ticket.

No photographs of the production were provided by The Shawnee Playhouse.

(*) denotes members of The Forwardian Arts Society in good standing and are considered Our Good Friends.

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