Review by Tierney Rasmussen, Mariemont High School Critic Team
In the bountiful wheat fields of rural Arkansas, the grass roots company of Mineola Community Theatre put on an extremely unique production of Mr. Bill Shakespeare's classic tale of Romeo and- wait. Excuse the mistake, this was actually Larry A. Ryle High School's production of An Evening of Culture by Mark Landon Smith.
An Evening of Culture is the sequel to the very popular play, Faith County. The show follows a hilarious group of townies attempting to put on a production of Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, everything that can go wrong does. Actors forget their lines, sets break down, and there is chaos backstage, all of which results in a riotous night full of laughs.
The cast and crew did a phenomenal job throughout the show. The cast had incredible energy and stage presence. Each actor was exceptionally engaging to watch and even when not speaking did a great job of acting silently which made the production very immersive. Similarly, the technical aspects of the show were extremely well executed. Each cue was hit exactly on time and contributed even further to the comedy of the show.
The lead actress Dalia Basinac, who played Mildred Carson, did a tremendous job. Her accent was very realistic and stayed consistent throughout the show. Additionally, Basinac showed great skill during her monologue in the first act. Lead Actor Cole McIntire, as Bubba Bedford, was humorous and endearing. He did a phenomenal job at using body language to increase the comedy of his role. Most notably, McIntire gave an absolutely riotous performance during the sword fight in act two.
The supporting cast must also be commended for their exceptional work. Maddie Donahue, who portrayed Faye McFaye, was hysterical. She brought copious amounts of energy and sass to all of her scenes and was a joy to watch. Her monologue, ‘An Ode to Tinkerbell' was not only hilarious but charming. Joshua Turner, playing Delbert Fink, was a standout performer. Turner used body language to elicit laughs, even when he was not speaking.
An Evening of Culture is no easy feat to produce and many difficult technical stunts were necessary in order for the show to be successful. Despite this challenge, the crew did an excellent job. Cues were hit on time, and contributed to the comedy of the play. All technical stunts in the show were well executed and kept the actors safe. Nik Coleson should be noted for his hard work as the light board operator, and Charlotte Bryan should be similarly commended for her work as Sound Board Operator.
As a whole, the students of Larry A. Ryle High School put on an outstanding and hilarious performance. It was an evening of laughter, jubilation, and culture.
Review by Hayden Drucker, Loveland High School Critic Team
In theater, there are times in which the show goes on whether if it is ready or not. For the characters of Larry A Ryle High School's production of An Evening of Culture, this is the case.
In the small town of Mineola, Arkansas, the cast of Romeo and Juliet are trying their best to put on a show that wows audiences. The only problem is the actors involved are not the best and the set is not yet fully constructed. The combination of the hilarity of falling set pieces and the nervousness of the actors creates a humorous atmosphere.
The show's unique set added to the amusement of the show. Whether it was the multiple times that an actor fell through the banister or when the wall was continually broken through the set really added to the general funny atmosphere of the show.
The craziness of the show was further added to by the lead actress Mildred Hayworth Carson played by Dalia Basinac. The portrayal of discontent with the rest of the cast and the outspokenness of Mildred really gave the show an extra kick that propelled from something good into something great.
It is hard to talk about An Evening of Culture without mentioning Delbert Fink played by Josh Turner. Delbert is the set constructor and is making and fixing the set all throughout the show, even while the show is going on. There is even a scene in which the actorstry and fail to hide Delbert as he fixes a part of the set. His forgetfulness of when the light and curtain cues are, and his overall personality, are what makes An Evening of Culture something truly special.
The combination of props and lights made this play come to life. Sometimes there would even be a part of the set that would become a prop, like in the fight scene of Romeo and Juliet. Luther Carson, played by Cody Combs, grabs a piece of the banister and uses it as a sword. The lights were always in time with what was going on in the play, especially given that there were a few light cues that had to do with the script instead of the play.
Overall Larry A Ryle High School's production of An Evening of Culture was really something special. Whether it was the destruction of the set or the hilarity of the cast, this production brought joy and laughter to all who came to see it.
Review by Lily Canter, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
From microphone issues to last-minute emergency costume changes, one of the most integral aspects of live theatre is the possibility that anything could happen, and nothing can be edited out. Larry A. Ryle High School's production of An Evening of Culture brilliantly brings this possibility to life, and then some.
An Evening of Culture is a comedic show in which the community theatre of Mineola, Arkansas, filled with a cast and crew of hysterical characters, performs its version of Romeo and Juliet. After establishing all the characters as they arrive in a hilarious opening scene, the audience of An Evening of Culture gets to become the audience of Romeo and Juliet; where they witness Juliet feeding Romeo his lines, the set breaking at key moments, and a dog barking right outside.
This production did an excellent job of making every character feel multidimensional, making it completely believable that each of them has an entire life outside of the glimpse the audience sees. Every actor fluidly plays their Romeo and Juliet characters through the lens of their An Evening of Culture characters, so that they never switch from one to the other, but rather add the layer of the original character acting as another.
Dalia Basinac especially exemplified this, keeping her Mildred Hayworth Carson's character and accent extremely solid throughout the show. Basinac brought an amazing energy to this performance that made the character, though often mean to the others, extremely lovable, and her comedic timing, especially with Cole McIntire, kept the audience laughing almost every line. McIntire, similarly, gave Bubba Bedford an extremely genuine and earnest quality that made him feel so sweet and well-meaning that when he forgot his lines as Romeo, it was hard to be annoyed.
From the moment she entered, sobbing, Maddie Donahue constantly nailed her physical acting and voice work as Faye McFaye. Her "Ode to Tinkerbell" monologue was hilarious, and Donahue filled the stage with her personality as Faye, never dropping her energy. Cody Combs also kept his energy constant, pulling off the difficult task of making the quiet character of Luther Carson feel still full of life throughout the entire show.
This production featured great comedic timing from not only the actors, but the technical elements as well. The stage manager and sound designer, Brooke Yates and Charlotte Bryan, clearly have a great understanding of the comedy of the show, as every sound effect, blackout and curtain close fit perfectly into the scene.
Larry A. Ryle's production of An Evening of Culture and it's priceless cast of characters made amazing use of physical and vocal comedy, bringing an already hilarious script to the next level.
Excerpts From Top Reviews
"The cast was hilarious, and with only eight actors in the show, each performer had to carry their weight and contribute to the show. The cast's energy was immense and palpable, with the technical elements of the sets, sounds, and lighting adding their own comedic touch."
-Benny Mitchell, Mariemont High School Critic Team
"The use of props and set during the play was incredible. With the show being a play within a play where everything goes wrong, the set needed to be dynamic. The balcony was impressive; being able to be sturdy enough to hold students one second to flimsily falling the next with some backstage tricks and without error. At some point the set was able to become a prop like during the sword fighting scene where after crashing through a banister, Bubba, as Romeo, takes one of the posts and starts sword fighting with it. Other props included actual fencing swords which were stunning."
-Elijah Smith, Highlands High School Critic Team
"The sound crew, led by Charlotte Bryan, did a seamless job of transitioning between live and prerecorded sound effects. Humorous music and pre-show narrations added to the atmosphere of the show. Stage manager Brooke Yates somehow kept a show about a show where everything goes wrong, running smoothly. "
-Lela Grillot, Highlands High School Critic Team
"Among the best of the supporting cast was Josh Turner with his role as Delbert, the show's handyman. While in every play within a play show, the handyman character is for all intents and purposes written the same, it was Turner's immaculate comedic timing and physical comedy that set him apart."
-Sam Hicks-Jirkins, Mariemont High School Critic Team
"Physical comedy is a demanding task to attempt, but the actors were consistent with their reactions and played the comedic aspects well. Specifically, Josh Turner (Delbert Fink) was consistent with his physical comedy. He had few long lines but was still an iconic character because of his use of props, his different attitude, and his changes in posture between being 'on and off stage' ".
-Kaitlyn Naylor, Loveland High School Critic Team
"One character's dreams of theatrical success, Mildred Carson (Dalia Basinac), really shined through via her actress's depiction of Carson's dedication to the role of Juliet. Basinac was able to portray her character's high-and-mighty mindset, while also acting as if she had little to no experience on stage. Carson had many hilarious one-liners that were perfectly delivered by Basinac."
-Ava VanBuskirk, Loveland High School Critic Team
"Several props were designed to be broken during the fight, and the quick motions of the swords were seamlessly integrated so that everything appeared to be real."
-Anne-Marie Lusk, Cooper High School Critic Team