Sketch of SUPERIOR DONUTS by Thomas Thorspecken

Thomas Thorspecken (Thor) sketches SUPERIOR DONUTS at Theater On The Edge.


I attended a dress rehearsal for Superior Donuts written by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tracy Letts at Theater on the Edge, (5542 Hansel Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32809). The theater is small but I am always excited to see how the stage has been transformed. The small space places the audience right in the midst of the action on stage.

The play opened with the house lights going black and then several people dressed in black vandalized the shop writing "pussy" in the wall and shattering glass and throwing donuts everywhere. It was rather uncomfortable to watch, I wanted to get up and intervene. The theater lights came up to show the carnage. Arthur Przybyszewski who owns the decrepit donut shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, entered and started cleaning up. Police showed up and tried to determine who might want to do so much damage. A Russian neighbor entered the shop blaming blacks despite the fact that one of the officers was black himself.

Franco Wicks, a black teenager enters and starts telling Arthur how he should fix the place up. The whole time Franco is cleaning up and helping out. It is a rather direct and inverted job interview and he becomes Arthur's only employee. The first act has several monologues in which Arthur reminiscences about his past. His fathers disappointment in him, and his own disappointment at the loss of his marriage and daughter, hint at why he takes the young Franco under his wing. Franco is young and sure of himself, having written what he feels may well be the great American novel. Arthur has sort of settled into the routine of his donut shop and has few ambitions. He lazily smokes weed blowing away his ambitions.

Arthur reads Franco's his novel which is hand written out on many note pads. He is amazed to discover that he absolutely loves the story. When he tells the aspiring author they both get swept up in the dreams of aspirations that might become true. Arthur then snaps back to reality and yells at his employee that dreams never come true.It takes hope to raise a child, and all of Arthur's hopes were dashed when his wife left him, forever separating him form his daughter Jamie.

It turns out that Franco has a huge gambling debt. He started working at Superior Donuts to escape his past but it catches up with him. A horrific act of violence dashed his dreams as he is physically mutilated and his book is destroyed. Arthur can't stand to see his young friends dreams destroyed so he personally pays the debt. A huge fight was treated like a school yard brawl but the stakes were very high.

This comedy-drama explores the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship. I had a blast and was often laughing out loud and then choked up as I saw dreams fade from youthful and middle aged eyes. The cast of nine hit so many strong emotional notes right on the money. I left feeling hope can always survive as long as you have friends.

The show runs from Sunday June 8th to Sunday July 2nd. Tickets are $19, $22 and $24.