L to R: Theodore Errig, Ruby Spryte Balsamo,
and Benjamin Errig
by Nicholas Linnehan
is a miracle. That line, uttered so sincerely, strikes us to the core. Isle of
Shoals production of Occupation Dragonslayer is a little confusing, but
hits a chord when it needs too. Billed as a contemporary musical fable, the
production engages us, but fails to completely hook us.
happens when seventeen people meet at a local diner near Ground Zero, eight
days before the restaurant is to be sold to a rich land developer? For one guy,
Chris this seems as good a place as any as he can't remember who he is. Donning
a Santa Suit and a FDNY fire-fighter shire underneath, we see that this man can
see into peoples souls and instantly connects to everyone. As each new person
or entourage enters, it is Chris who ties them all together. Act one is filled
with many vignettes about each character. Herein lies the trouble in the piece,
as it makes it appear fragmented. But thankfully, Chris is the anchor to the
ship and pulls us all together.
the background of the play, 9/11 is looming over everyone and although it is
unclear how much time has elapsed since that horrible day, its effects are still
being dealt with by the characters. It seems jarring to break into a musical
number when the topic is 9/11. But the cast has strong voices, which combats
the odd juxtaposition of musical and 9/11. So who is the Dragonslayer and what
is his purpose? Well, it appears as if he is there to protect these people from
corporate greed. But again, that is a guess because it gets a little fuzzy.
L to R: Steffen Whorton, Kimberly
Bello, and John Mervin photos by
played by Steffen Alexander Whorton is the ultimate good guy; Sweet, sincere,
and charming. We all instantly fall in love with this fellow. The Duchess,
played by Judy Polson, is the only one who knows who the Dragonslayer is and
what he is here to do. Polson is adequate in the role and gets the job done.
Kimberly Bello, plays Mara, a wandering girl with no sense of purpose. She
gives us a knock-out performance when she sings her number “The Girl in the
Mirror.” She deserved a standing ovation. Watch out for Bello, she's got the
goods to make it far. Also noteworthy, is John Mervin, who plays Damon Wade.
His voice is stellar and he is as every bit as slimy, corporate America that he
needs to be. We love to hate him!
all the strengths of the production, there were some weaknesses. Like the
costumes, designed by Janet Goldberg. The play takes place during winter and a
lot of the actors, the Duchess in particular, is inadequately dressed. If we
are truly to buy into the fact that it is cold outside, it is a contradiction
to see so many characters dressed in short-sleeves. This distracts us from
fully buying into the world of the play. Also, the character of Gil, played by
Steve Walsh is bewildering. In act one he enters a troubled, sad man, who is
rather likeable. Then in act two he re-enters as this macho jerk who no one can
stand. This leaves us dumbfounded and wondering about Gil's true character.
Now, granted this is a musical, but there is an overabundance of musical
numbers and reprises that don't seem to help tell the true story. It seems as
if the Book got short-shrift here and all the attention went into the music. A
more equal balance would have been nice.
the final moment and the belief that hope is a miracle is moving. And in this
political climate, who doesn't need some of that? Further editing needs to be
done, which will help tell a clearer story. Hopefully, Bryan Williams who wrote
everything inclcuding the score along with director stephen
sharpen his play, which will allow the audience to be fully immersed into his
world because it is one worth sharing in!
Dragonslayer plays now through Sept. 25, 2016 at 44o Lafayette Street. Robert