Connor Breen, Patrick Taft, & Alex Hatdon in The Bus Stop at Sycamore and Vine. Photo by Shaun Kenney.
The Bus Stop at Sycamore and Vine
By Eli Keel and Tyler Curth
Directed by Joe Hatfield
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
The Derby City Playwrights are serving up some new work. Composed of six original full-length plays, this three-week event displays rich homegrown works by seven distinct writers. Among these plays, The Bus Stop at Sycamore and Vine taps into contemporary LGBTQ issues as well as the complex relationships between brothers.
For starters, Eli Keel and Tyler Curth’s dialogue pops along with a lively beat from start to finish. The actors handle the subject matter and syntax with a natural ease that provides a realistic and nearly nostalgic feeling. Keel and Curth have done well to capture the paradox teenagers face as they look toward the future while keeping a hold of the past, all the while playing games of truth or dare, handling peer pressure and awkward first time sexual encounters.
Honest, daring, and pretty darn funny, the script calls for a group of diverse actors to pull equal weight. Luckily, this cast answers the call and then some. As brothers Trent and Taylor, Connor Breen and Alex Haydon are balanced in their opposite personalities. Breen brings machismo insecurity to the thuggish older brother, Trent, while Haydon’s Taylor is intelligent and passively mild mannered. Breen and Haydon’s unstable dynamic pulsates throughout the piece as choices are made, secrets are kept, and harm is done. Where Breen’s thug transforms into a bully, Haydon’s timidity grows into bold aggression. Within these changes, Keel and Curth have done well to examine how one brother’s action affects the other regardless of lifestyle or consequence.
In other roles, Zoe Peterson, Alexis Seay and Patrick Taft each deliver strong performances. As the rebellious and quirky Amanda, who begins dating Trent, Peterson pins downs her character’s edginess with dry, comedic delivery, which is softened by the urgent desire for a new life. Seay is mysterious and sassy as Alyssa, the new girl in town. Seay relies on these mysterious moments and lets them simmer as the tension builds between her character and Trent. Patrick Taft plays Doug, a closeted bully who comes to terms with his true identity within the scope of the play. A character type that has been seen several times over in stories linked to LGBTQ issues, Taft’s performance is filled with anger but hungry for acceptance, which brings new life to a common stereotype.
As the title suggests, the action takes place at a singular bus stop in a small rural town. Action surrounds this particular location, yet very few board the busses as they arrive. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the show is the manipulation and setting of this singular set piece. Constantly being moved and repositioned, this set creates perspective and staging the likes I’ve never seen before at The Bard’s Town Theater. If the mission of the Derby City Playwright’s festival is to bring distinctly new voices with unique stories to the attention of Louisville’s community, then The Bus Stop at Sycamore and Vine should be considered a success.
Cast: Connor Breen, Alex Haydon, Zoe Peterson, Alexis Seay and Patrick Taft
The Bus Stop at Sycamore and Vine
July 8 @7:30pm
July 17 @ 5:30pm
July 23 @ 7:00pm
Part of the First Annual Derby City Playwrights New Play Festival
Advanced Tickets: $18 / At the door: $20
Derby City Playwrights
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!