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Jun 13, 2006 - Nevada Rep’s “Epic Proportions” could be fun, sometimes is, but mostly isn’t
By Jack Neal
The Nevada Repertory Theatre's tepid presentation of "Epic Proportions,"
an obscure play by Larry Coen and David Crane, has - under the
circumstances of this production - little chance of becoming better known.
The idea of what happens, or could happen, in the making of an epic
motion picture is a grand one, or could be. But the usually quick-witted
direction of Jim Bernardi, a seasoned director who relishes a campy play
with laugh potential, isn't quick witted enough this time out to make up
for the play's myriad omissions on the fun and games scene needed to
promote belly laughs and giggles.
The premise of a 1930's film crew stuck on location in the remote
regions of the barren Arizona desert sans indoor plumbing, with a
looney-tunes hermit director, a hackneyed script, and an inexperienced
cast hoping to make it big is fraught with possibilities. If a weak
script doesn't boost fun into orbit, then the direction must. Although
Bernardi's direction has its moments - the slow motion sequence, for
example - but the moments of genuine wit and slapstick movement are too
far between to make for socko lightweight entertainment.
The cast does, however, sport some young talents that help save - if not
the day - at least some moments of pleasure.
Domenic Procaccini II, who plays Phil the kid from the farm who
eventually rises to the lofty heights of director, has charm galore and
the kind of magnetism that almost makes the play work. Pat Donahue, the
star-struck kid who plays Phil's brother, Benny, has a wide-eyed
innocence and character command that is fun to watch as he climbs his
way to the stars and romance.
The romantic interest of the two brothers and their collective stepping
stone to tinsel town success is supplied by the engaging Sarah Potts,
who plays the very earnest Louise Goldman, assistant to the largely
absent director D.W. DeWitt. When DeWitt finally emerges it's in the
guise of bearded character actor Brian Barney who gives DeWitt a
deliciously challenged look of fading directorial competence.
Kimberlee A. Pechnik makes the most of Cochette, the lesbian costume
designer who has more designs on women than on her sketch pad. Emily
Anderson is the movie within the play's queen and she plays her with
Brady Hess pays his dues by playing three roles - Octavium, the shouting
emperor, Slave Master, the homoerotic lover of beatings, and Roman
General, the posturer. In each case, Hess more than rises to the occasion.
The scenic, lighting and sound designs (largely movie-music underscoring
that's quite effective) are all by Michael Fernbach, who does his usual
But, alas, the ad and program proclamations of "Adventure! Mystery!
Romance! Gladiators! Live! Uncut and in color!" are expectations too
often not met. Many good parts do not add up to a cohesive whole, making
"Epic Proportions" more of a grandiose idea gone astray than a solid
evening of theatrical fun.
"Epic Proportions" plays June 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, and 17 (2006) at 7:30
p.m. at the Redfield Studio Theatre on the campus of the University of
Nevada, Reno, 900 North Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada. For tickets call
1-800-225-2277. For information call 775-784-4ART.
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