Editor's Note: James M. Kadra provided this review at the request of the South Carolina Repertory Company.
South Carolina Repertory Company uses the magic of synergy to bring its current production of A. R. Gurney's "The Cocktail Hour" to subtle comedic life.
When I spoke recently with the cast and director, "synergy" was the word most frequently used to describe the relationship among the SCRC principals, directors, actors and audiences since its founding in 1992. In a unique but integrated way, each contributes to the success of this theatrical group. By soliciting programming ideas from their audiences, directors and actors, Pat and Hank Haskell have created, much to the benefit of Hilton Head Island, a closeknit theatrical entity of the highest quality.
In the production, John returns home to his family with his new play, which was written about them. He wants to obtain their permission to proceed with the production, but his wealthy, very proper parents are cautious, and John's sister is unhappy that her character has such a minor role. As the martinis flow, so do the recriminations and revelations, both funny and poignant.
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The family members in Gurney's play, (as portrayed by Chip Egan, Barbara Farrar, Bill Gorman and Jan Haskell-Mohr) seem to be at odds most of the time, and at the end of their individual ropes much of the time, under the sensitive direction of Tom Evans, this fine ensemble cast uses stage magic to create human beings for whom we feel frustration, annoyance, anger and, ultimately, empathy. We sense that its creation has been a labor of love for all involved.
We leave the theater delighted that this small performance space on Beach City Road is consistently able to transport audiences to times and places not previously experienced, through characters and stories not previously known.
Although "The Cocktail Hour" is a familiar title, I still headed home with that feeling of wonderment experienced by SCRC regulars since day one. Where do they do they find these plays? How do they consistently manage to please our creative palates? You know, the answer just might just be "synergy." The play runs through March 4.