Guest review by Sharon Geller
Published Friday, March 30, 2012, 3:26 PM
Azuka Theatre is a great little Center City-based theater company with a reputation for producing socially-minded and thought-provoking productions while cultivating new playwrights. Under Kevin Glaccum’s direction, their productions have won Barrymore Awards for acting and sound design. That is why it was especially disappointing to see Hope Street and Other Lonely Places, a play that suffered mainly from its playwriting.
Currently running through this Sunday, April 1, at Azuka’s new home at First Baptist Church (1636 Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia), local playwright Genne Murphy offers her audience a look at addiction – both emotional and physical – via different slices of life. Set in various locations around Philadelphia, which almost serves as the sixth character in her play, Hope Street and Other Lonely Places focuses on ex-addict Frankie, played by Mary Lee Bednarek. Kim Fairbanks is Jeanette, Frankie’s ex-lover, who lost her eldest son to drug abuse and has a rocky relationship with her youngest son, Sam, played by Delante G. Keys. Joe O’Brien (Jack) and Leslie Nevon Holden (Megg) are the happy couple doomed to tragedy.
Fairbanks, a strong actress, is always a pleasure to watch and captures the anguish and pain of the grieving mother nicely. O’Brien and Holden give us a believable glimpse into the beginning of their happy relationship which quickly slides downhill. Images projected on the screens offered a nice backdrop to the action taking place on stage, and there was a fireworks scene that was delightfully executed and fun to watch. But even these few positives cannot make up for the writing, which was cumbersome and seemed to drag on and on.
Tickets to Hope Street and Other Lonely Places can be purchased via this link or by calling 215-563-1100.