Friday, July 18, 2014

The Receptionist will Have It's Central Florida Premiere at the Shakes This Weekend

DiDonna Productions/ The Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration) presents the Central Florida premier of The Receptionist by Adam Bock directed by Kevin G. Becker. The show is a dark office comedy that raises questions about narcissism, willful ignorance, and blindly following the rules.

I arrived at a rehearsal a bit early. The Mandell Theater was empty but there were a few props left over from a magic show on stage. Since Empty Spaces, was presenting the show, I started by sketching the empty stage. As the sketch progressed, I wondered if I was in the wrong place.  Finally Kevin and Becky arrived. Office props were moved on stage. The office table was missing a leg and Kevin used carpenter's glue to get it back in place. Comically it popped off as actors rehearsed their lines. Tissues were needed for one scene but for the rehearsal, toilet paper had to be substituted. Flowers were needed to liven up the office and magician's tissue flowers had to stand in for the night.

Alea Figueroa and Rebekah Lane began going over a confrontational scene together. Martin Dart (Josh Geohagen), a charming rep from the Central Office had just left. Lorraine (Alea) ran in looking to see where he went. Beverly (Rebekah) shouted out, "He's married!" "Well, he's not happily married." Lorraine replied. This sent Beverly off on a rant about how important trust and loyalty are. She was so worked up that you knew this came from personal experience. Beverly mentioned a friend who had started dating a man she met online. She off highhandedly mentioned that he was married, like it was no big deal, just another part of the equation. It was however a mistake, getting off on the wrong foot. Lorraine retreated to the office chairs and Beverly followed, relentless. "I was just flirting." Lorraine replied her hands twitching nervously. Her eyes welled up. Then all the theater lights blacked out unexpectedly. "I'm lonely and I miss Glen." she said in the darkness. It was a powerful heart felt performance heightened by the lights blacking out as part of tech. I had to wipe my eyes when the lights came back up.

Beverly is the receptionist and she is the life blood in a busy office. Her gossip with a friend on the phone is sporadically interrupted as she forwards calls to colleagues. She deals with Lorraine's romantic troubles dating a narcissist by suggesting she read a book called, "Help, I'm Dating a Narcissist". Beverly is good natured and believes the best in everyone around her. Exactly what business is handled in the office is slowly reveled. The boss, Mr. Raymond (Kevin Sigman) discusses a mysterious interaction with a client whom he believed might have been telling the truth. It seems office personnel get information and confessions by any means possible.

The appearance of Martin Dart from the Central Office upsets the office daily routine. Lorraine flirts with him playfully but when they get close, he grabs her hands in a vice like grip. She backs away in fear. It wasn't until later, that I realized that her flirting might have been an attempt to find out why he was there. The Receptionist raises disquieting, provocative questions about the consequences of complicity with evil. On the drive back home, I kept thinking about the show. The dark under currents are subtle and linger, raising many questions.

This show will be presented as an immersive social theatrical experience taking the audience through an interactive pre-show at the Shakes bar, discussing the process behind performing and producing the show then moving into the theater to watch The Receptionist followed by a lively Question and Answer back at the bar about the hidden meanings and emotions that the show creates. Trust me you will have questions and you will love meeting the cast. This is a national trend where live theater is breaking away from the mold of being like a movie that you see and then immediately leave. By interacting with the cast , you get to experience the informal inspiring atmosphere that I love every time I sketch a rehearsal. It is great to meet the actors when they are playful, relaxed and can share their love of theater one on one.

Mark Your Calendar! 
The Receptionist by Adam Bock

Fri July 18th – Sat July 19th @ 8pm
Mandell Theater
The John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Located in Loch Haven Park across from the Museum of Art
Parking available in Loch Haven lots, or in Science Center Parking Garage off of Princeton (Next to Mennello Museum of Art)
$20.00 general / $15.00 student and senior available by reservation
Will call/cash at door
(Group rates available for groups of 10 or more)
For reservations please call 407.328.9005 – will call cash only at door

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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