Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: A Perfect Heist

Adapted from Frank Pierson’s “Dog Day Afternoon” which was inspired by an article from Life Magazine, Stockholm Savings by Michael DeMeo is a high-octane comedic thriller about a bank robbery. Touching upon themes including homosexuality, fears, social media and the media's spin on news stories, Stockholm Savings finds a smart way to explore the depths one will go to achieve a goal. The story follows Adam as he and his partner Andre enter a bank for a robbery. As someone who formally worked at a bank, Adam knows all the ins and outs preventing the employees from messing up his plan. When the cops end up on the scene, Adam's plan is thrown out the window causing a hostage situation and thus a captivating character study. By blending high-stakes terror with a tinge of laughter, DeMeo allows the audience to ride a rollercoaster of emotions. DeMeo succeeds effortlessly by subtly placing his themes into the play and allowing them to be a part of the plot and not be it. DeMeo does an expert job developing the story and characters, rarely providing fluff. Everything in the script has a purpose. The situation is raw, the characters are real, and together, they make a brilliant story.
The entire ensemble of Stockholm Savings brought you right into their world. As head robber Adam, Ryan Nicolls gave a full forced performance. He brought force but deep within was heart and humility. There was control in his performance despite the character quickly unraveling. For once, you sympathized with the bad guy. To bring the laughs and the realization that social media is truly the end of society, Megan Russell as teller Michelle was simply hilariously. With a beautiful smile and bright disposition, you almost had to wonder if she was a little too comfortable in the situation. As local cop Ochenson, Justin R.G. Holcomb found great ground in his strength. Or was it simply immense manipulation? Reginald L. Wilson had possibly the smallest character but the most intrigue. He was more than just the sidekick and with a little room to expand the script, DeMeo could benefit by offering more to the character.
The vision brought by director Ashlie Atkinson and her team was what allowed Stockholm Savings to thrive. Atkinson earned every moment of the play. The beats were hit hard. The pauses were natural. And the transitions were seamless. Atkinson had the actors slowly make their way onto the stage prior to the preshow speech. It's usually an unfortunate choice but Atkinson had Athony Wills Jr.’s Sam actively watch the announcement and had it propel the show. It was a very clever choice. Michael DeMeo wore a few hats for the production including scenic, costume, and graphic design. And they all were cohesitve. He made the best of a less than ideal situation by transforming the Flamboyan. DeMeo created the interior of the bank by simply using piping to create an outline of walls and doors. At first having the idea of a door blocking the audience was difficult, but you easily adapted and understood the voyeuristic approach of looking into the world. By keeping the furniture within the bank all white, it allowed continuity. The lighting by Miriam Crowe mixed natural white in the bank and the glow of police lights outside. It was simple yet effective.
Stockholm Savings is one of those sleeper shows at Fringe. It should have a future life and could be a very interesting journey to stage it in a thrust set up. Truly place the audience in the action.