This last weekend, UW-Parkside Theatre Arts held its first FreshINK production of the semester. In their FreshINK presentations, the actors just read the roles of their characters from the script. There are no props, stage directions, or actions. The point of this is so the audience can focus on the words of the script instead of being consumed by the commotion on the stage. The play that was performed was Superior Donuts, written by Tracy Letts and directed by Michael Clickner.
This play takes place in Chicago and centers around the main character’s, Arthur Przybyszewski, donut shop, which the title is named after. Arthur’s shop is broken into and vandalized. Arthur does not seem to care too much about his shop anymore as he really doesn’t take an interest in the investigation. After some scenes with two police officers and Max Tarasov, Arthur’s eccentric Russian neighbor who runs a DVD shop, Franco Wicks enters into the mix. Franco Wicks is a young African American who is taking a break from college. He is hired by Arthur and they go back and forth on many issues. Franco is industrious and claims he has written the next great American novel. Now is when the play starts to shift. The audience is given a glimpse into Arthur’s past and has a sense of a man who is stuck going nowhere. At the same time Franco is found out to have a gambling problem and has his head on the chopping block with his bookie.
Franco is roughed up, three of his fingers cut off, and his only draft of his book is ruined by his former gambling friends. Arthur sells his store to his neighbor Max, settles Franco’s debt and tries to reconnect with Franco. What started as a comedy with fast paced wit, puns, racial stereotypes and awkwardness, turns into a field of emotion at the closing as backgrounds of the characters are revealed. The actors did an excellent job of relaying the emotion of the script to the audience, almost to the point where it was not noticed they were reading. A job well done, considering they only prepped two weeks for this.
The UW-Parkside Theatre Arts program has its next FreshINK performance on November 18, 19, and 20. Some other productions they will be doing this fall will include Shakespeare’s Henry V and Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play. For more information on these productions and the theatre program in general go the UWP main website and enter theatre as a keyword.