SBCC production ‘Other Desert Cities’ shows pure magnificance

The Channels Art Pages | STAFF REVIEW

SBCC production 'Other Desert Cities' shows pure magnificance

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JUSTINE ANDERSEN, Staff Writer

I had high expectations for The Theatre Group’s second showing of “Other Desert Cities,” and those expectations were more than exceeded at Thursday’s performance at the Garvin Theatre.

The design of the single set used for the performance was stunning. The typical Palm Springs, boring home on the golf course, came alive with exceptional lighting and props.

The intimate setting made me feel like a fly on the wall; like I was right alongside the family in the living room, experiencing their laughter, hope and even despair.

The theatre was almost full, which was surprising given that the production, directed by R. Michael Gros, was only a preview. There was a mix of students, with mostly elderly people there to watch the play that originally opened on Broadway in 2011. 

Some of the students left by intermission, but boy did they miss out.

The entire cast was phenomenal. The effortless chemistry between the actors on stage was highly believable and at times I forgot that they were simply acting.

The story is about a family, and like every family their lives contain secrets and lies. At first the story wants you to side with Brooke, the daughter played by Stephanie Katers. But as the complexity behind the reasons start to surface, alliances majorly shift, and the end of the play is absolutely mind-blowing.

Brooke and her Aunt Silda, played by E. Bonnie Lewis, especially stood out. Brooke’s vibrant personality and high energy, and alcoholic Silda’s hilarious one-liners, brought a lightness to the show.

It starts out with Brooke, who is suffering from depression but on a manic upswing. She engages in implicit war with her seemingly vicious mother Polly, who is played by Meredith McMinn, who did a fantastic job. At first you simply hate her with every bone in your body.

But the show held perfect balance, and despite the students leaving at intermission, I could tell the audience was receptive. They laughed at the witty jokes, and embraced the silence when the drama went “deep.”

Overall the play flowed nicely, hovering impeccably between serious and light.

Brooke’s father Lyman, played by Tom Hinshaw, and her younger brother Trip, played by Justin Stark, do the best they can to keep the peace within the hectic family, and regardless of where they stood at the beginning, it all comes to a head by the end.

Hinshaw really came into his own toward the end of the play when his character turns from calm to angry, after provocative and misunderstood secrets are threatened to be exposed. However, it has a beautiful ending and message and it all makes sense.

The entire show was extremely well rehearsed down to the last dimming of the lights. The scene changes were flawless. There were no flubbed lines or technical difficulties at any point, and the lack of distractions made for a wonderfully enjoyable show.

The story and script related to our country’s current state, and the subject of war and Sept. 11 hit home in a big way. Overall it was a fantastic performance. I was deeply moved, saddened, and inspired by the story and the acting, and I would definitely see this production again.

The show will run from Oct. 14-29, with general admission tickets costing $26. The cost for students is $17, and $19 for seniors.

On Thursday evenings, and Sunday matinees the general admission cost will be $24, and is $14 for students, and $19 for seniors.

For information or to make a reservations call the Garvin Theatre Box Office at (805) 965-5935, and tickets can be bought online at www.theatergroupsbcc.com.