Review-The Colorado Catechism-TSR Productions

  10-4-14

By: Cindy Kim

Struggling painter Ty Wain attempting to deal with his rampant alcoholism finally meets his artistic muse at an alcoholic treatment center. She’s a high school economics teacher, been in and out of the same facility three times, and sometimes lies because she can (but never cheats). The first time they meet, Ty shows up drunk and she slaps him under mistaken identity. From these auspicious beginnings, they stumble – though not drunkenly – into a moonlit forbidden friendship.

At first, I had my doubts. The opening monologue was not the strongest performance the play could have opened with, and Ty’s and Donna’s first meeting dragged out almost as much as his drunken slur. For a 90 minute performance carried entirely on the shoulders of two people, I wasn’t sure if they could successfully carry that weight. But as the story unfolded, and with it these two amazing, complex characters, I really shouldn’t have worried at all.

The organic development of the relationship between the two is absolutely startling to see, whether as friends or something more.  Tammie Rhee and Thomas Lo work great together, and bring to life interaction which never feels cliché. What at first felt too deliberately forced, such as Donna’s smuggled Twinkies and sugar contraband, later turned into something quite natural. I felt almost privileged to be sitting there as they slowly opened up to each other and their pasts.

It’s never a snappy exchange of increasingly unrealistic witty banter one after the other; it’s a refreshingly genuine, human exchange. In between the companionable potato peeling, elbow ribbing and competitive card stacking, there is also awkward silence, unbearable tension, and casual disinterest. They’re not perfect; they’re two halves who can’t make a whole. But they rely on each other and trusted with little secrets just between the two.

The closing monologue, an echo of the introduction, was far more melancholy and poignant now I learned their history. The end of the play, despite its loneliness, left me strangely uplifted.

The Colorado Catechism is playing through April 12th at the Fringe Club. For more information, click here.


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Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 3.9


Comments

  • Michael Waugh
    11 April 2014

    Two rather special performances in The Colorado Catechism made a visit to the Fringe Underground Theatre on Thursday night really worthwhile. But more of them in a moment. The play, by Vincent J. Cardinal, tells of the tender, developing relationship between Ty and Donna. They are inmates of a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics, and any romantic involvement could mean expulsion. Donna is there because she almost caused the death of her young son by inadvertently locking him out of the house on a winter’s night. Ty, a portrait painter, has been sent there by his backers, so that he can find his way back from the bottle to his canvas.

    The mood-swings vary considerably, and Tammie Rhee as Donna and Thomas Li as Ty are absolutely compelling to watch, as they get to know each other by degrees. Dialogue, that in less competent actors would be deadly flat, is filled at times with convincing anger, and at other times with equally credible joy, despair or hope. Whatever mood prevails at any given moment, the characters are completely believable. Thanks to the consummate talents of Miss Rhee and Mr Lo, under the assured direction of Adam Walker, the evening was, indeed, a theatrical triumph.

    I have just one quibble, though. The play’s structure is at fault, because it allows Ty too much time to soliloquise, thereby causing the charismatic Miss Rhee to exit too often, and depriving the audience of the presence of a very gifted actress.

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