Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ‘n’ ends
LAST Thursday, the Exit Zero team was lucky enough to score seats to the opening night of Cape May Stage’s production of Topdog/Underdog. The entrance was crowded with patrons buzzing about the production, eagerly proffering their tickets and collecting their programs. Artistic Director Roy Steinberg welcomed us inside and promised an excellent show; something that would appeal to younger theater-goers. “For one thing,” he said, “it was written in this century.”
Topdog/Underdog does feel very immediate and relevant. Even the set design felt very 2010 – McDonald’s take-out and copies of Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition decorated the dingy one-room apartment onstage. Having done our homework, we already knew the script was brilliant. We aren’t the only ones who think so – the Pulitzer Prize Committee agrees. Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks constructs a riveting story of two African-American brothers, Lincoln and Booth, as they try to navigate life “in the third world” in America today. The language is sharp, current, often explicit and exactly on the mark.
But a script will only take you so far. Actors Jed Reynolds and Stephen Rider take the play from page to stage with great skill. This could be the result of the show’s previous run in LA, but it’s more likely a testament to their great talent. Reynolds plays Lincoln a little world-weary and self-conscious: like any older brother, he carries the weight of responsibility and must play the straight man to Booth’s antics. Rider, for his part, makes Booth a highly-combustible schemer who is better at “boosting” (stealing) goods than sweet-talking girls.
The audience was receptive to the production – sometimes laughing heartily, sometimes exhaling in shock. By the time the show reached its gut-twisting climax, we had trouble shaking off emotion and rallying ourselves to applaud.
Satisfied and shaken, the audience, cast and crew relocated to Carney’s Other Room for food and stiff, restorative drinks. The actors entered the restaurant to a round of applause. Over drinks we met Reynolds and Rider, who are as friendly and articulate off stage as they are dynamic on it. Topdog/Underdog grabs your attention and gets you thinking. It runs through October 23, so don’t miss your chance to see this piece of epic theatre.
THERE is only a small minority of people in and around Cape May who don’t love crabs – and even fewer that don’t love beer. That’s why it is no surprise that the C-View’s Crab-A-Palooza was such a big hit. The event was running from 1-7pm, and although we only made it out there just after 4pm, the party was still kicking and we had to wait for space at one of the big, brown paper-covered tables.
The event was also easy on the wallet: $30 got you a dozen crabs and an additional $8 added a pitcher of Miller Lite or Pabst Blue Ribbon. The crabs were of an excellent size and quality. We would have classified just about every crab on our plate as being “large.” And, as we were handed our plate Dave Hassler said, “There was one small one in there, so I gave you an extra to make up for it.” Dave Hassler and Dave Tilton both deserve credit for cooking up some great crabs. It’s events like this that make the fall such a great time to be in Cape May.
SPEAKING of events that make Cape May great, this coming weekend is the debut of Cape May Forum: Chautauqua at the Shore. There are more than 30 events happening in and around Cape May, but the central focus of the Forum is four presentations given by experts on the subject of how humor shapes our world. In addition, there will be a comedy club and barbeque on Sunday night at the Rusty Nail. For a complete list of events, make sure to check out our guide starting on page 27.
THE one disappointment of this week was missing the Cape May Renaissance Festival. After a busy Saturday, Sunday had been reserved for the festival, so we made an effort to brave the weather. Sadly it seems that the rain got the better of the Renaissance and flooded out Queen Elizabeth’s court. But, rumor has it that there could be wine from Willow Creek Winery (where the event was held) available at next year’s festival. We doubt even a hurricane could keep us from that.
Until next week…