PHOTO: Franco (Sean Philippe) and Arthur (Allan Whitehead) in "Superior Donuts" at Theater On The Edge. (Monica Mulder Photography/courtesy photo)
"[Samantha DiGeorge] has once again created a beautifully immersive environment — you can literally smell the sweet pastries as you arrive." - by Matt Palm
Our first review is in for SUPERIOR DONUTS! Click the link below to read the full review...
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'Superior Donuts': A sugar-coated trip to a funny doughnut shop
By Matt Palm
It’s hard to believe that what was a dingy motel room just a couple of months ago is now a fully functional doughnut shop. But Theater on the Edge has completely transformed its small 30-seat venue for its latest production, “Superior Donuts” by Tracy Letts.
For the south Orange theater’s spring production of the drama “Tape,” Samantha DiGeorge painstakingly re-created a decaying Motel 6 room. Now for this consistently funny and engaging comedy, she has once again created a beautifully immersive environment — you can literally smell the sweet pastries as you arrive. And there are lovely extra touches: Letts’ comedy is set during a Chicago winter, and through the shop window you can watch the snow fall.
But your eyes most likely won’t stray too far from actor Sean Philippe. He plays Franco Wicks, a young man who bursts into Arthur Przybyszewski’s doughnut shop, talks his way into a job and breaks through standoffish Arthur’s self-made walls. If this setup sounds familiar, you might have caught the CBS sitcom of the same name; the TV show is based on the premise of Letts’ play.
Philippe makes Franco much more than the familiar fast-talking, smart-aleck black youth of pop culture. He presents a verisimilitude that reveals a warm humanity under the surface laughter. Even in the play’s final moments, when it appears Letts wants to make a deeper point but isn’t sure exactly what that is, Phillipe proves riveting.
Letts, who won a Pulitzer Prize for writing “August: Osage County,” veers between sitcom-style dialogue and more thought-provoking material throughout “Superior Donuts” — and not always smoothly. Resident director Pam Harbaugh helps her cast even out some of those bumps, though she lets things get too goofy in an awkward-date scene; it’s out of place with the more naturalistic tone of the rest of the play.
Letts also diminishes some of his play’s naturalness by inserting a subplot that requires two stock B-movie goons to appear on the scene.
But Allan Whitehead, as Arthur, keeps the play anchored in reality. Perhaps his reminiscences about Arthur’s wilder youth could use a little more fire, but as Arthur battles the demons of his past, Whitehead effectively conveys a puzzled sadness that befits a man adrift.
In this divisive time in American history, the fast friendship between Arthur and Franco almost feels quaint. Maybe we could all use a visit to the neighborhood doughnut shop.
- What: Comedy by Tracy Letts
- Length: 2:30, including intermission
- Where: Theater on the Edge, 5542 Hansel Ave, Orlando
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays (except June 16); 2 p.m. Sundays; through July 2
- Cost: $16-$24
- Online: TheaterOnTheEdge.org