Image – The Alley Theater
Detective Partner Hero Villain
By Brett Neveu, Directed by Leah Gravius
The Adventures of Candy Matson
Produced by JoAnne Sweeney, Spencer Pratt, Spencer Korcz & Daniel Smith
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
For a play featuring at least one costumed crime-fighter, Detective Partner Hero Villain is kind of a downer. A talky, existential exercise in ennui and pessimism, it is a smart script with a dark sense of humor. This production from The Alley Theater struggles to fully realize the play’s full potential, although it seems ready to grow into it.
The barely-there plot involves a Detective investigating a series of murders through conversations with his Partner and a Hero, costumed character named the Fantastic Phenomenon. The enigmatic Villain of the piece is an apparent psychopath with a knack for getting under your skin.
As the title suggests, we are dealing with sturdy stereotypes that are intentionally never developed past their iconic parameters. The playwright is using the simplistic structure to more tightly focus a commentary on the current state of society and the dissolution of optimism. There is very little action but several philosophical dialogue exchanges that floridly explore the themes.
Things got off to a slow and lugubrious pace that seemed linked to some uncertainty on the part of the players in the early scenes. But once Spencer Korcz’ Villain arrives things began to improve. While not a great performance, it was nonetheless good work that was just what the doctor ordered. It injected a tone of measured menace delivered with welcome concentration that began to put things on the right track. Kenn Parks was a sturdy Hero, with a subtle note of exhaustion that indicated that the Fantastic had been draining out of the Phenomenon for a while now. Jenna Bain managed a nice platinum blonde, tough-chick manner for her Partner, which, along with well-chosen transition music, did the most to evoke a noir mood. And the lethargy in Dennis Grinar’s weary, burned-out Detective felt as much a lack of energy in the performance in the beginning, although he seemed to find his reserve by the time the finale rolls around.
The Adventures of Candy Matson derives from a 1940’s radio serial broadcast in San Francisco and here given a spritely staging, as a radio drama should be staged, with sound effects and dramatic music cues. Some of the techniques were inconsistently realized, and I wasn’t certain of the logic of using a telephone prop for phone conversations between actors standing at radio microphones, and only one of the actors at that (?), but for the most part Candy Matson was a lively entertainment – a satisfying partner and light-hearted antidote to the heavy sledding of the main event. JoAnne Sweeney gave her Candy a lot of moxie, while Spencer Korcz, Spencer Pratt and Daniel Smith seemed to enjoy themselves in supporting roles, executing sound effects and music cues.
Detective Partner Hero Villain & The Adventures of Candy Mattoon
August 28 – September 6, 2014
The Alley Theater
633 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202