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Award-winning play ‘Carapace’
Premieres at the Hertz Theatre

2011 February 22

David de Vries and Bethany Anne Lind; Photo: Greg Mooney

When Susan Booth calling “Carapace” “earth shattering” during the announcements on opening night at the Hertz Theatre, I leaned forward and applauded with anticipation.

“Carapace” was making its world premiere after winning the Kendeda Award for finest new play from a graduating college playwright. And, since two-time Tony Award-winner Judith Ivey had directed it, I figured it had to be good.

The stage was beautifully set with a prop that resembled an actual car and reminded me of  the best show I have ever seen at the Hertz Theatre, “How I Learned to Drive,” which really was “earth shattering.” (It won the Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama.)

So my engine is revved, and I’m ready for this show to take me on a great ride.

But “Carapace” didn’t shatter me at all. Strange, because just hearing about a young girl who stutters and gets teased at school would bother me. And a story about a man who drinks and can’t maintain a relationship with his daughter or ex-wife could be shattering. But watching Margo as a child, a teenager and a young adult talk and stutter around Jeff (David de Vries), her father who becomes estranged from her,  I felt almost emotionless.

When I saw “The King’s Speech,” I felt pain and joy for King George. Colin Firth made me believe he was King George and that he really could not get his words out of his mouth. His stutter seemed to emanate from something within him. When I saw Margo (Bethany Anne Lind) stutter, I thought it was the actress who was attempting to stutter rather than Margo trying not to stutter.

In a scene in which Margo is a young adult and comes home to her boyfriend who tries to comfort her as she sees her father there, I didn’t believe they were two people who were really in love. Nor did I believe that she was really scared of her father.

While the scenes that should have been touching left me cold, there were a couple of scenes in the play that were humorous.  Ted (Mark Kincaid), who has been in rehab for substance abuse, doles out advice on how Jeff, his former brother-in-law, can “fix” his relationship with Margo. The play’s funniest scene is when Jeff goes to a pet store to buy a tortoise for Margo, who always wanted one when she was a young girl.  Kyle (Paul Hester), who recognizes Jeff from drug and alcohol rehab, loves the animals so much he refuses to let Jeff buy them.

“Carapace” is not bad and doesn’t crash, but it isn’t earth shattering.

Written by David Mitchell Robinson and directed by Judith Ivey. Cast includes Mark Kincaid, Joe Knezevich, Tony Larkin, Bethany Anne Lind, David de Vries, and Paul Hester.  “Carapace” runs through March 6 at the Hertz Theatre.

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