Brian Hinds, Alexis Paxton, Hannah Lechleiter, & Remy Sisk in Coherence. Photo: Time Slip


Based on the film by James Ward Byrkit
Directed by Charlie Meredith 

A review by Tory Parker

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Tory Parker. All rights reserved.

I want to celebrate Coherence in the same way I’m celebrating the steady return of the mid-budget rom com and star-powered sex comedies in Hollywood. Are they seminal works of art?? Are they forcing me to unpack truths about myself or about our fraught political ecosystem? No! But oh my god, I feel like I’ve been crying out in the desert for a well-paced, action-packed, funny, spooky, supernatural thriller mystery ensemble piece and BOOM, it is here. 

Based on the film of the same name by James Ward Brykit, Coherence is the story of 8 friends gathering for a normal dinner party the same night a mysterious comet is passing overhead. There’s tales of strange occurrences last time this comet passed almost 100 years earlier, but there’s nothing to worry about, right? Well, not until people’s phones stop working, or break mysteriously, and the power goes out, and there’s an ominous knocking at the Door to Nowhere! 

In the original film, virtually all of the dialogue and scene work were completely improvised. Actors would receive notes about directives for the date or moment, but would be largely left to their own instincts, giving every moment a truly organic (and manic) sense of reality. Director Charlie Meredith had no small task in adapting this for the stage, where that improvisation has to go out the window, but the feeling of it has to remain for the sake of the story. The result is a play that is expertly crafted, tight like a well-wound clock, intentional with every beat, and entertaining to the last second. 

I can’t go any further into the plot than I have without unraveling spoilers–but I’ll say that even if you’ve seen the film and think you know exactly what to expect, this is still a play worth seeing. Each actor gives a strong performance, and they’re so well-tuned to each other that every scene plays like an orchestra. Hannah Lechleiter as Em stears us through a world that could so very easily turn into gobbledygook chaos, and it is ultimately her decisions that lead us clattering to a thrilling final act of the play. The cast is paired off, 4 couples, but the most interesting duo to watch has to be Jared Auton as Mike and Brian Hinds as Hugh. Auton provides not only the laugh out loud comedic relief, but some moments of real, aching pathos. Through him we have to reckon with the terrifying reality of being our own worst enemy. Hinds grounds the cast and the show. His presence and expertise lift all boats. When the two face off at a critical moment, the entire sold out audience was holding a collective breath. 

The biggest qualm I have with the show I’m fairly certain lay outside the hands of the Time Slip team. The show is made up of all straight couples, and other than Em, the women seem to be kind of useless. The men are the ones making active choices (though often bad ones) about their supernatural situation and the only choices the women seem to make relate to their relationships with the men. Something in my soul dies when a woman on stage or screen says “well what are we going to do?” or “we need to have at least 2 guys here,” but I can’t say it wasn’t true to the characters. Maybe straight friend groups really do talk like that, I don’t know. These women and the women who portrayed them weren’t weak, but I wish they’d been able to play a bit more active of a role in their own story.   

With the mystery and twists of an Agatha Christie and all the razzle dazzle an intimate black box can deliver, the play felt like a roller coaster from the moment the power goes out in the first act. Charlie Meredith’s direction and pitch perfect sound design keeps the audience, who sit within the action of the play, on the very edge of their seat, jumping at knocks at the door, yelping at black outs, gasping at every reveal. Jesse Alford’s lighting is nimble and powerful. Together with the sound and the set by Corie Caudill, it takes us to those places just left of center, right outside of where we think we are and where we should be. 

If you can get a ticket for this show, you should. If you can go with a friend, do. Something tells me this is not the last time this will be done on a stage. But if by some horrible misfortune it is, don’t be the one who missed out. 


Featuring: Jared Auton, Brian Hinds, Zach Hurley, Hannah Lechleiter, Alexis Paxton, Veronica Riggs, Remy Sisk, & Myranda Thomas

March 17 – 26, 2023

Time Slip Theatre 
1501 Story Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206

Tory Parker, originally from West Virginia, is now a proud Kentuckian as well. In Louisville, she’s worked and/or performed with Actors Theatre of Louisville, Claddagh Theatre Company, the Chamber Theatre, Bellarmine University, Wayward Actors Company, Derby City Playwrights, Company OutCast, Highview Arts Center, and director Emily Grimany. She is a co-founding artist of the queer theatre collaborative, three witches shakespeare. As a playwright, her original works appeared in the National Women’s Theatre Festival in their 2020 and 2021 Fringe Festivals.