Baltimore’s Single Carrot Theatre has a new theatrical home, a new artistic director, and a new season with a brand new series of contemporary plays.
Shawn Reddy’s White Suit Science inaugurates Carrot’s new ‘Featured Second Series’ and, although neither the play nor the production rises to the wonderful, both make it clear that all this newness has not dulled the ensemble’s quest for the quirky yet socially relevant.
Reddy’s White Suit Science explores the iconography of said attire, particularly as it relates to Mark Twain and Colonel Sanders. It is not so much a play as an essay, however, as it floods its spectators with factoids about Twain’s childhood sweetheart or Sander’s eleven herbs and spices. One leaves the production not with a story to hold onto or a clear understanding about the icon’s status in society but with various impressions about the southern fried chicken (stay away from it), southern gentleman and their unblemished “immaculate” veneer, and the state of our academic institutions.
Ensemble member Paul Diem plays the Narrator, a odd mix of pipe smoking, seemingly poncho-wearing professor whose eccentricities totally outweigh his erudition. He starts this lecture on the WHITE SUIT off by writing a long sentence on scenic designer Allison Campbell’s wonderful wrap-around-the-room blackboard. Then he disappears backstage only to have the subject of his remarks magically reappear stage right, immaculately dressed in a white suit, and as a different actor.
Jonathan Jacobs plays the white suited (and white haired) Mark Twain #1. He gives the character a good deal of poise and plenty of pomposity as he gently struts around the stage pontificating on one facet or another of his life and wit. One assumes that he is more hallucination than character.
He is soon joined by the white suited and white haired (and person of color) Mark Twain #2 played by Utkarsh Rajawat. This Twain impersonator is full of emotional mini-explosions as he erupts with insights, some of which were unfortunately lost (or swallowed) in the actor’s opening night nerves. I hope he settles down a bit and allows those key words a bit more articulation.
Number 1 and 2 then make three, as the white suited and white haired woman-in-drag Mark Twain #3 strolls on stage. Carly Bales gives this female southern gent all the zest the character can handle as she bounces around the stage, mugging it up with the best of them.
Jessica Garrett directs this madcap production. Although more clarity of purpose would definitely have helped the antics keep my attention–who is this trinity of Twains anyway and why are we here listening to this weird professor?–Ms. Garrett does keep the action moving and the interplay with the audience upbeat.
Besides Ms. Campbell’s sets, Caroline Jurney handled the costumes, Chris Allen did the lighting, and Max Garner made the sounds.
As Single Carrot enters its 8th season the excitement is palpable. White Suit Science is but a tidbit awaiting your consumption. The full carrot is yet to come.
Running Time: 55 minutes without an intermission.