REVIEW: THE SECRETARY at Curious Theatre

by Charlie Ray

Before I begin my review of Curious Theatre’s most recent production, I’d like to throw out there that this particular venue is among my favorites in the local scene. Every play that I’ve had the pleasure to attend has left me amused, mildly questioning my morals and obsessively thinking about it for the next week or two. Not only does ‘The Secretary’ fall right into this familiar mold, it is by far the best I’ve ever seen at Curious.

Inspired by the emotional reaction to the aftermath of the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, Kyle John Schmidt’s ‘The Secretary’ provides an empathetic and fair perspective to both sides of the still-very-relevant debate surrounding gun control. Led by an extremely brilliant all-female cast, this isn’t just a play about guns, but the compassion that women have for one another, despite not
always agreeing on everything. Folks; I laughed, shed a few tears, audibly gasped a few expletives and was literally on the edge of my seat by the end of it.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve seen a play or two at Curious before. I had an idea of what I was getting into. However, processing my emotions after seeing this one took a little longer than usual. Quite frankly, I’m still processing (and will be attending again this upcoming weekend with my parents). There are so many things that I love about this production that narrowing it down to be review-friendly has been tough, but here goes my thoughts on what’s really stuck with me.

ABSOLUTELY 100% the first thing that got a laugh-out-loud snicker from me was a coffee mug. Yes, a coffee mug…and no, not because I’m someone who is easily amused, but because instead of an ordinary mug, the handle was a handgun. At first, I pondered as to if this was a prop specially devised for the show or if it was something that was actually manufactured for purchase…then I remembered that this is America in 2020 and concluded that it was most certainly a legitimately purchasable item. (Side note: a simple Google search confirmed my thinking). The mug makes its first appearance very early in the show, aside from eliciting a hearty laugh from the audience, it does the biggest, most important job of setting the tone. I simply love the fact that something seemingly so mundane could have such a
profound impact. Extreme kudos to Prop Designer Saxon Rhoad for the amusing and reflective prop design.

THE CAST.
I still cannot believe I saw such simultaneous genius in the same room. I’m trying to make this review as spoiler-light as possible, but there are just a few moments I just have to mention. Kathleen M. Brady’s inspiring turn as the conservative, gun-toting Ruby had me recalling moments from my own life with similar-minded family members. At first, Ruby is your seemingly stereotypical gun-toting conservative Southern woman. At the start of the play, my judgement was showing and I found myself scoffing and shaking my head at some of the things she had to say. By the time she makes her emotional plea to “come home” to the reluctant April close to the conclusion, I found myself in tears and sincerely felt the empathy brought forth in her portrayal of Ruby. Additionally, Emma Messenger and Leslie O’Carroll had me entranced from start to finish, as their takes on Lorrie and Shirley (respectively) are the most prominent providers of the much needed comic relief – yet also are the most terrifying and unpredictable individuals in the entire show. Honestly though; the entire cast is brilliant and there wasn’t a slight moment where I didn’t believe that these were the actual people I was watching on stage. I legitimately had to reality check myself that what I had just seen on stage was not something
that was actually happening in real time. Bravo, indeed.

Alright, so, there’s nothing about this production that I didn’t love, so I’m going to just say that “I loved it less when….” And just make this short and sweet and then move on. I loved it less when the play seemed to run a little long. There’s no intermission. However, its not needed. It’s just a personal preference of mine and the scene openings felt repetitive after a while. I have no suggestions on how to
make it better, however. There. That’s all that I loved less. Folks, it’s only January and I daresay that I’ve already seen my favorite play of 2020. It runs until February 22 nd and it’s a production that I personally believe every American adult needs to see at least once. I’m already looking forward to the next time I’m able to see it.

 

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