Review by Alan Jozwiak of Always Plenty of Light at the Starlight All-Night Diner: Know Theatre
Traveling back in time is
a perennially favorite wish of humankind.
Like Doc Brown and Marty McFly in Back to the Future, we have an itch to go back in time to see if we can set things right. Whether it’s Marty’s dilemma to get his parents together or to stop a major incident from occurring (like the Titanic or JKF Assassination), human beings want do-overs.
In the world premiere time travel fantasy offered by Know Theatre, Always Plenty of Light at the Starlight All-Night Diner by Darcy Parker Bruce, the need to back to the past becomes a vehicle for discovery and self-exploration. Always Plenty of Light explores what happens when Dr. Franklin Moxie (Michael Burnham) and his crack assistant Danni (Maggie Cramer) create their own version of a time traveling DeLorean by taking the physical Starlight All-night Diner out of its current time and moving it back into the deep past.
Without giving away too
many spoilers, complications ensue with the two servers at the diner—Sam
(Lormarev Jones) and Jessa (Leah Strasser)—join Dr. Moxie along on his time
Director Alice Flanders creates a taut 75 minute dramedy that nicely balanced the absurdities found within the play with the real emotions and relationships of the characters. This is a play that could easily become completely absurd and Flanders does a great job for highlighting some of the touching moments with the cast of characters while still keeping the absurdity.
As the pregnant Jessa,
Leah Strasser is a standout. She deftly
explores the terrain of Jessa’s character, moving effortlessly from pathos to
comedy, making every action believable.
Strasser also has wonderful sense of physicality which added to the
humor of many scenes. She was
counterbalanced by Lormarev Jones, who played the role of Sam. Jones provides
the emotional grounding for the play.
Her character’s concern for Jessa is both touching and moving, as well
as the lengths she goes to protect Jessa and her baby.
Michael Burnham as Dr.
Franklin Moxie played the mad scientist to perfection. Balancing his science obsessed character were
some touching moments with his assistant Danni, revealing his basic humanity
amidst absurdity. In the performance I
saw, Burnham had a very good recovery after accidentally falling out of a position
he was holding—the mark of a consummate professional.
Maggie Cramer as Dani had
a number of strong moments of emotional connection where her character could
sparkle and shine. Cramer delivers a
stand out performance when she is on the cell phone with her parents,
beautifully articulating all the contrary emotions faced by her character.
Kudos also need to go to
Scenic and Lighting Designer Andrew J. Hungerford who created a version of the
Starlight All-Night Diner that was both functional and aesthetically
pleasing. The set captured the essence
of the diner and was the perfect backdrop for the action on stage. Know has a history of creating strong sets
and this set was one of their better efforts.
In closing, this
production of Always Plenty of Light at
the Starlight All-Night Diner does a great job at exploring the feelings
and relationships of its characters. The
play itself left me wanting a second act to see what happens to these
characters, but the production itself was satisfying.
Plenty of Light at the Starlight All-Night Diner
runs February 22 to March 16, 2019, with performances running Wednesday through
Saturdays at 8 pm, with 3 pm Sunday matinees.
For more information on this show, visit Know Theatre’s website at https://knowtheatre.com/season-21/starlight/.