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MadLab’s 2011 Theatre Roulette: QUEEN OF HEARTS

 Submitted News MadLab’s 2011 Theatre Roulette: QUEEN OF HEARTS
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On Thursday night, I went to see the QUEEN OF HEARTS night of plays at MadLab’s 2011 Theatre Roulette. I usually expect a night of laughs from MadLab’s roulette, but was in for a somber surprise.

“Seldom Heard,” written by Mary Steelsmith and directed by Michelle Batt, is the story of a wife and her injured veteran husband desperately trying to make it through each day. They live in a community that is only concerned with property values. Hanna (Melissa Bair) is a strong and ever-vigilant wife and her husband, Ivan (Vince Reese,) is the injured vet. I give credit to Reese as he’s got a difficult role portraying the injuries sustained by an IED. But the effect of his injuries is all over the map and need tightened. Marilyn (Jennifer Feather Youngblood) is the neighborhood association representative who is sent in to try and convince Hanna to spare the neighborhood and put Ivan in a home. Marilyn drips with the worst stereotypes and was just was not believable. Aside from a failed shirt button gag and the distracting Marilyn, the piece was powerful. Bair’s role as the wife at the end of her rope helped to bring it all together.

“Mornin’ , Daughter Mine” was written by Tom Deiker and directed by D Thonnings. Mother Nan (Melissa Bair) and daughter Robyn (Hilary Shelton) have a one-on-one suicide intervention around the breakfast table with coffee, hoarded pain medication and a handgun. In an emotional, but sometimes forced conversation, the mother and daughter attempt to come to terms with what the mother sees as a curse; the seemingly endless cycle of suicide the surrounds them. Again, Bair proves the stronger actor and kept the play going with her spot on portrayal of a desperate woman with her dark psychology. Shelton provides for a believable daughter, but I craved to see more of her despair.

And then the house came down with “Boom, Pow, Oof,” directed and written by Jennifer Feather Youngblood. The play centers around a self-help group session for people who lack superpowers in a world where most everyone is a superhero. Henry (David Tull,) is a newcomer to the group is welcomed by Dr. Bryce (Michelle Batt,) who attempts to reign in and guide the group of misfits. Batt wears a black skirt and glasses and I was waiting for her to tear it off to reveal a super suit at any moment. Jim Azelvandre plays Gary, a wishful arch-nemesis. Stephen Woosley and Josh Kessler play Martin and Sean the wannabe nemeses. A subdued Gladys (Linda O’Donnell) plays her meek role well. While the whole group worked well together, Azelvandre tears it up and almost steals the show. After two very deep plays I was ready for a good laugh and was not disappointed. “I am powerful without powers!”

MadLab’s 2011 Theatre Roulette will continue at 8:00pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through May 28th. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. For information call 614-221-5418 or visit MadLab.net. MadLab Theatre is located at 227 N. 3rd Street in downtown Columbus.

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