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The Spot lacks focus and direction

THEATER REVIEW:

September 12, 2007

Billed as a coming-of-age, slice-of-life dramedy, “The Spot,” Blackhole Theatre’s world premiere play at The Banshee in Burbank, is in dire need of playwriting and directing assistance. Author Danny LeGare, who also serves as the director, producer and lead actor, may be wearing too many hats. His 90-minute one-act is light on conflict. The result is a show full of uninteresting characters sitting around talking about things that never engage the audience.

You see, it’s just another day at The Spot, a neighborhood watering hole, owned and operated by four generations of the Carver family. Arriving first is Amanda Smith as Maggie Carver, great-granddaughter of the bar’s founder, who now aspires to a higher education and place in the world.

She is soon joined by Eddie Applegate playing a retired plumber-turned-daily-patron named Charlie and Julia Lehman as Jodi, the establishment’s ditzy blond waitress.

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LeGare stumbles in as George, a man who has returned to the town shell-shocked by the news of his father’s terminal illness. Eventually, we discover he’s a former high school acquaintance of Maggie’s.

Adding a slight glimmer of pizazz to this rather dull collection of stereotypes are Michael Boucher as Pete, the local grocer, and Elizabeth Novotny as Susan, the resident gum-smacking floozy.

Unfortunately, they all suffer under LeGare’s uninspiring direction. Most of the cast seems to be living in a world where everyone inserts pauses in their conversations, as though waiting for a different camera to focus on their close-ups before speaking.

It’s an irritating performance style that adds unnecessarily to the show’s length. Furthermore, it gives the appearance that these actors aren’t playing scenes but rather simply reciting words.

Meanwhile, the day progresses at a snail’s pace marked by periodically inexplicable dimming of the stage lights. Eventually, one begins to wonder why LeGare’s character is still sitting there while his dad is dying somewhere across town.

One’s only recourse is to visually peruse the set. Unfortunately, that’s made difficult by the spottiness of the uncredited lighting design that leaves certain major playing areas completely swathed in shadows.

Prop master Monique Miedema deserves credit for attempting to dress the stage with requisite seating and even a stage-left pinball machine.

Still, the scenic accouterments throughout this supposedly decades-old bar are anything but realistic. There’s a piecemeal feeling to the set bespeaking the shoestring budget with which LeGare must have been working.

Eventually, everyone wanders aimlessly out of “The Spot” just as they arrived. LeGare’s and Smith’s characters are left onstage to wrap up this uneventful moment in time with the completely unbelievable beginnings of some sort of romantic connection.

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