Play On is a fantastically funny play, written by Rick Abbot, which encapsulates the many horrible ways that a play can be undone: A community theater has decided to put on a play, written by a local author, in order to save money on royalties and get themselves back in the black. Unfortunately, though for the troupe, the playwright cannot settle on her script and is constantly bringing in pages of rewrites with added and deleted scenes, major plot changes, and even an added character four days before opening. The rising levels of frustration and sheer panic only further aggravate the already nervous cast, who butt heads and battle egos at every opportunity they get, and the chaos that ensues is delightfully horrible and hilarious.
Directing the Castaways Repertory Theatre‘s production of Play On is Sallie Willows, and the Stage Manager is Kathleen Tyrrell. The set, designed by Mona Kay Helper, consists of one room that represents the set of their play-within-a-play. The room is simply dressed and still in its construction stage, at the start of the show, and goes through a progressive transformation until the end of the show where the stage is ready for opening night.
The production had some hang-ups with the timing of the curtain and light cues not allowing the actors enough time to exit, and a sightline issue, where actors could be seen waiting to make their entrances. But nothing unfixable and certainly nothing that kept the audience from laughing continuously.
The actors were fun and, added to the light-hearted nature of Abbot’s play, the performance was impossible not to enjoy. Elissa Hudson was perfect as Polly, with all of her snoot and pomp that always ended up with her being the “butt” of many jokes. Yes, Polly’s rump is a running joke throughout the play but you’ll have to experience the show in order to understand.
Another stand-out performance was Daniel Potter as Saul Watson. He was incredibly engaging from beginning to end and was an important driving force for keeping up the energy of the production. Laughter was guaranteed the moment he stepped on the stage, and I may have actually given myself a concussion from bending over so hard, with laughter, that I hit my head on the chair back in front of me.
Kudos to the other members of this hard-working ensemble: Katy Chmura, Denise Mattingly, Brian Miller, Amelia Citron, Kurtis Jackson, BreAnna Holliday, Scott Morgan, and Kathy Gurchiek. It’s their teamwork and chemistry that makes this production a delight.
Anyone who has ever been involved in theater or seen a live theater production can relate to the madcap insanity that occurs in Rick Abbot’s Play On. The play is absurd in the best possible way and anything that can go wrong, for the unfortunate community theater troupe, does go wrong.
If you are looking to break away from the seriousness and monotony of the real world, the Castaways’ production of Play On is a great way to disconnect for a time and enjoy the carefree non-stop laughter that can be live-theater.
Running Time: Two and a half hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
Play On plays through November 8, 2015 at a Castaways Repertory Theatre performing at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building Auditorium – 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, in Woodbridge VA. For tickets, call (703) 232-1710, or purchase them online.