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Monday, May 14, 2012

With “The Snowflake Theory” The Bard’s Town Is The Place to Be for Local Playwrights

Left to right:  Laura Ellis, Scott Goodman, Carol T. Williams &
Susan Crocker in The Snowflake Theory. Photo by Doug Schutte.
 
The Snowflake Theory

By Nancy Gall Clayton
Directed by Kathi E.B. Ellis

Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley

Entire contents are copyright © 2012, Craig Nolan Highley.  All rights reserved.

The Bard’s Town is rapidly becoming the place to go in Louisville to see strong performances of alternative theater. Longstanding groups such as Finnigan Productions and Le Petomane have started performing there, and it is home to its own company, The Bard’s Town Theater. I’ve gotten familiarized with the place through such productions as the first Ten-Tucky Festival, the latest Finnigan Festival, and most recently A Derby Carol – mostly very off-beat and eccentric productions to say the least.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the latest show to tread their boards is Nancy Gall Clayton’s far more traditional and down-to-earth The Snowflake Theory.

It’s a Neil Simon-esque story with heart, and avoids the pitfalls of a lot of local original plays like clunky dialogue and a penchant for self-indulgence. It is a briskly paced tale of changing family values peopled by characters we can relate to. It is light comedy to be sure, and never gets big laughs; but it doesn’t need them as it does elicit a lot of smiles.

Carol T. Williams anchors the show with her strong performance as Marge Klein, a widowed Jewish mother coping with two children whose lives are not going where she would have wished. Her perpetually single daughter Rebecca (Susan Crocker, in a lovely and subdued turn) has given up on ever getting a husband and has had herself artificially inseminated. Her son Clark (Scott Goodman) plans to quickly marry his flighty-headed girlfriend Violet (Laura Ellis) and enlist in the Army. When Marge enlists the aid of her new Rabbi (Ted Lesley), she decides to do some matchmaking that doesn’t quite turn out the way she intends.

Very strong performances all around bring this well-written show to life, and Kathi Ellis’s sure direction keeps everything moving at just the right pace.

The work of an uncredited set designer is also worth noting, creating two believable locations on the Bard’s Town’s small stage: Marge’s kitchen and the Rabbi’s office. This is the first time I’ve actually seen an attempt at a realistic set in this space, and it really is a nice effect.

You’re not going to take any life-altering lessons away from this warm and friendly piece, but it’s a solid production and definitely worth seeing. And there’s a restaurant attached, so it’s a perfect date night!

Featuring Susan Crocker, Laura Ellis, Scott Goodman, Ted Lesley and Carol T. Williams.

The Snowflake Theory

 May 10 – 20 @ 7:30 p.m.

The Bard’s Town Theatre
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville KY 40204
(502) 749-5275

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