Ludlow Quinn presents: The Man Who Knows

By Rachel White
Directed by Erin Crites

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

Although each play is inspired by one of the vintage magic posters in the Baron’s Theatre, there has been very little magic performed in the “Ludlow Quinn presents” series. No rabbits are pulled out a hat, and no women are sawed in half.

Yet Rachel White executes a form of sleight-of-hand in her play that reminds us that clever theatre is its own kind of magic. She uses our expectations and reliance on stereotypes to tell a story that starts as a coming of age tale, shifts into an exercise in Machiavellian mechanics, ends as seemingly cruel prank, but, upon further reflection, has tricked the audience through misdirection.

The scenario of a young man in 1919 Eugene, Oregon who has ambitions to apprentice with master magician Alexander, sneaks backstage after a performance and is given a potent lesson in mistrust, manipulation and humiliation, allows for depth unexpected in a tidy 15 minutes. As brief as it is, it is a true play in structure, with layers of understanding available for exploration.

One is left to ponder Richie’s future and whether Alexander is as cruel as he first seems. The magician never once is dishonest and gives ample warning, but the eager and impressionable youth only hears what he wants to hear. But perhaps Alexander is satisfying Richie’s ambition and well as his own in a deviously clever fashion that defies convention.

James Thompson carefully calculates his earnestness and gullibility as Richie, and Kyle Ware brings sneaky charm and authority to Alexander. Kelsey Thompson and April Singer deliver sharp, sexy turns as Alexander’s assistants. In the common thread of gender politics that has run through the Ludlow Quinn series, this entry adds cross-dressing and the blindness to reality that can come of unrequited love to the catalog of themes.

On November 7, Theatre [502] takes a break from Ludlow to offer a preview of Bull, their entry in the Slant Culture Theatre Festival, which opens November 13 at Walden Theatre.


Ludlow Quinn presents: The Man Who Knows

October 4, 2014

Theatre [502]
The Baron’s Theatre
131 East Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202



KeithKeith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at the Louisville Visual Art Association during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for