Leah Michelle Roberts is Millie in The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn.
Photo – Theatre [502].
Written by Diana Grisanti and Steve Moulds
Directed by Amy Attaway
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright 2013 by Keith Waits, all rights reserved.
One third of the way though, a viewer might begin to ponder when fatigue or redundancy might find its way into the 12 chapters of The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn. Chapter four moves us forward with equal parts invention and dramatic substance as the balloon is kept well in the air.
When last we saw Bonnie Burke (Becca Willenbrink), she and her new friend, Jill Dempkins (Alexandra Sweatt), had taken the magic book, written many years before by Ludlow Quinn, to Murray (Douglas Scot Sorenson), whose knowledge of magic clearly extends beyond hucksterism and the $5 novelties sold in his shop. Now retreated to his back room, they begin to explore the book’s contents in earnest while the text is dramatized, in part, by scenes of Ludlow (Eli Keel) and the mysterious stranger, here confirmed to be Bonnie’s grandmother, Millie (Leah Michelle Roberts).
The authors forego any formal synopsis or clever devices such as the filmed segments used in the last two chapters, instead folding some refresher into the text, as we discover more about Ludow and Millie’s relationship while being reminded of how it was established in chapter one. It is a tidy way to bring in newcomers while nudging the action just a little further. Ludlow Quinn’s return is welcome, as I had feared we would lose sight of him as the story remained in the present-day; but authors Diana Grisanti and Steve Moulds are allowing enough fluidity in their narrative structure to move in any direction they choose without seeming too random or arbitrary. For now, these middle chapters seem occupied by a desire for less less action and more depth for story and character.
So to answer the question, there is redundancy, yes, mostly owing to the creative team’s unique responsibility to the audience in this format to somehow bring you up-to-date, but no signs of fatigue. The energy of the playing helps matters, as the ensemble of recurring players seem to relish the chance to return once a month to make their own discoveries about what happens next in the mercurial tale of Ludlow, Millie, Bonnie and the rest.
New chapters are scheduled to arrive on First Fridays each month through April 2014 performed at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn, Chapter Four: Trickster, Sorcerer, Oracle, Sage
September 6, 2013
Theatre [502]
at The Baron’s Theatre
131 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202