Leah Roberts, April Singer & Michael Drury in The Two Lobbyists of Verona.
Photo-Bill Brymer


The Two Lobbyists of Verona

Written by Diana Grisanti and Steve Moulds
Directed by Amy Attaway

Review by Ben Gierhart

Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Ben Gierhart. All rights reserved.

Is there anything more exciting than new theater? There’s something breathtaking about the birth of a new play. Conversely, there is magic in the tradition that productions of older, more venerated plays offer as well. Theater [502] deftly marries the powers of Diana Grisanti and Steve Moulds, Humana Festival veterans and the epitome of nascent and bold theater, and William Shakespeare, the apotheosis of classical theater, to that effect in this production.

There are myriad references to the Bard’s most celebrated works present, to which a narrator character, ably portrayed by Ann-Claude Rakotoniaina, wisely cautions the audience to avoid paying too much attention. A tempest (well, a hurricane, really) ravages the town of Verona, Kentucky, devastating it and leaving the citizens bereft of hope regarding their respective and collective futures. Xander Blakemore (Michael Drury), lobbyist for Commonwealth Energy Solutions, providentially swoops in to inform the citizens of Verona that there is a sizeable reserve of oil and natural gas buried deep within the earth they reside above. The resources are extremely profitable, enough so that the citizens of Verona need not be concerned for the foreseeable future, but as is most often is the case, the deal is too good to be true.

While the County Council waffles over the decision to accept this offer and the light “fracking” that it will entail, Council President Katie Connelly (Leah Roberts) seeks another solution. With the help of an eccentric uncle (Brian Hinds), Katie arrives at such an idea: The World of Will, a Shakespeare theme park. The plot of the play quickly becomes Big Corporation vs. Not-For-Profit with a few amusing side-stories along the way.

The directorial approach is minimalist and effective, bringing out sensational performances from the cast. Brian Hinds shines as Katie’s uncle, a failed academic who delivers some of the plays loftiest and wittiest language. Roberts and Drury also turn in sterling work, especially when in opposition to each other. There is a bite just underneath Drury’s Xander that complements the earnestness of Roberts’ Katie, and as this is the driving mechanism of the plot, it is more than welcome. Lucas Adams, Erica McClure, and April Singer are also delightful in their respective roles, sharing the load of the play’s ample wit.

Two Lobbyists is quite clever with its references of pop culture, which are both contemporary and classical as well as gut-busting funny. It seemed, however, that the plot served as merely a framework for the jokes. For all the humor, this reviewer would have liked to have a little more substance. One of the most interesting scenes features Xander attempting to tempt Katie with the allure of lobbying. It’s a more complicated discussion than anything else in the play, and I could not help but wish that the theme had been explored more thoroughly. That being said, more than a few laughs were uttered and smiles cracked, making for a fine and fun evening of theater. New theater works deserve nothing but the utmost supporThe Two Lobbyists of Verona

August 5, 8, & 9, 2015

8:00PM Free Show; 7:15 pre-show

Theatre [502] at
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival
In Central Park


Ben [box_light]Ben Gierhart is a local actor, playwright, and director who has worked with several companies in town including The Bard’s Town, Pandora Productions, Savage Rose, and Centerstage. Ben serves on the board and in the acting ensemble for The Bard’s Town Theatre, and he is also a founding member of the Derby City Playwrights, a collective dedicated to creating new and exciting plays in Louisville.[/box_light]