Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: A Shop of Stories

The items in pawn shops always have a story. Whether they have sentimental value to the original owner or are rich in price, they meant something to someone once. But what about the history of the people within the pawn shop? What's their story? In Wombat Theatre Co.'s devised play Moore & Sons, we get the opportunity to see the story behind the titular characters, which shares the name of the pawn shop. Written by the acting company, along with some who did not perform, Moore & Sons tells the tale of widowed Judy Moore and Brian, the bastard son of the elder Moore, as they begin to regain control of the family pawn shop. Along the way we meet an array of characters that help the pair discover that, despite blood, family is forever.
The play gets off to a slow start, filling the room with exposition but once the action gets underway, the heart of the play truly unfolds. Like any devised piece, there may be stamps of a certain collaborator that may not be as strong as others, but the beauty of Moore & Sons is despite this, there is a genuine cohesiveness. The primary characters, for the most part, each have an arc, though their journey may be rushed due to the time restraint in the world of the play. Though the plays takes place in a single location over the course of a day, the script still had a very cinematic aura to it. The plot is quite accessible. It screams Indie film, perhaps with the added aid of the wonderful soundtrack.
As far as characters are concerned, it takes time to warm up to Rachel Abraham’s Judy and Alexander McCarty’s Brian, but once you do, their relationship is sweet. McCarty’s Brian seemed to lack emotion in his scenes with Judy, but you soon learn that his discomfort is due to their rocky relationship and his uncertainty of his place at Moore & Son. But his deepest moment on stage was one that required no words, simply listening to the record player. The emotions McCarty offered were stunning. One of the strongest and realist scenes is between Brian, his friend Buddy, played uproariously by Adam Weppler, and the eccentric stoner trying to sell his hot dog cart, played effortlessly by Nick Stag. Somehow what started as a potential throwaway scene turned into a beautiful examination of growing up through the lens of three adults in three different stages. The chemistry between the three actors was natural. Through the various costumers who inhabited the shop throughout, we get glimpses of backstory and insight on the characters. Of these customers, Meagan Nagy as Denise and Tyler Grimes as Guitar Guy made their moments lively.
Director John Lavigne and dramaturg Pip Gengenbach do a nice job curating the world of consistency. The atmosphere of the space, designed by director Lavigne, evoked a run down pawn shop, using the architecture of the stage to his advantage.
Moore & Sons is a unique examination of the power of relationships. Don’t let the location scare you away from this special play.