Theater review | thru aug. 17
As an end-of-season bonus, Theatre on the Square is presenting an additional show: Dancers, a solid, comfortable, laugh-out-loud dramady about people who impact our lives just by being there.
From left, Jerry Zink, Robina Zink and Dannon Crews in TOTS" "Dancers"
Kevin is an English teacher whose mother is in a nursing home. He dutifully visits her every week, but during his last visit, they had a slight squabble. The show opens with Kevin at the nursing home very early in the morning. It"s believed his mother may have had a stroke and he is waiting nervously to see what the doctor has to say. Into the solarium comes Julia, a night owl nursing home resident who talks to pillows for company. She and Kevin chit-chat, and she is there when Kevin gets the news about his mother: She has died.
Kevin begins visiting Julia, who says she was a dancer in her youth, and meets her roommate, Jack, a crotchety old geezer who believes Kevin will end up hurting Julia. Jack wants Kevin gone, and soon the feeling is mutual.
This is the second play this season in which TOTS has taken on how the elderly are treated: Taking Leave, though having a similar theme, didn"t have the spunk that this show does. The subject matter never approaches dreary, and the characters are so human, but at the same time so entertaining.
Kevin Brown, who helped originate the show 15 years ago, directs a cast whose leads are seasoned actors presenting performances that nail each character. Robina Zink is simply delightful as the whimsical Julia. Every facial expression and gesture is perfect. She portrays the grandmother everyone wishes they had. Her husband, Jerry Zink, plays Jack, a dirty old man who is rude and crude (in a statement about his proctologist he states that "the world would stop turning if there was not a pound of wax up my ass"), and loves terrorizing the nursing home staff. Jack"s love for Julia is evident throughout, however, which gives his character depth and keeps Jack out of the realm of stereotype.
Kevin, played by Dannon Crews, becomes one of Jack"s targets. Crews is a versatile actor, and here he gives Kevin a nervous, self-conscious persona. As the show progresses, you can see subtle changes as Kevin grows - a little more strength here and there, a little more self-confidence. Rounding out the action is a fine trio of nursing home staff.
My one and only quibble: At times, some of the actors" voices were lost due to lack of volume. But in all, Dancers is a touching and, yes, uplifting show that also provides a surplus of belly laughs. Don"t fear the nursing home: You may find yourself taking notes for the next time you are in the hospital and dealing with a less than charming nurse. It runs through Aug. 17, Fridays and Saturdays; call 637-8085.