Meet the Rogue

Live theater. Unsolicited commentary.
From Detroit to Lansing.

Carolyn Hayes is the Rogue Critic, est. late 2009.

In 2011, the Rogue attended 155 plays, readings, and festivals (about 3 per week) and penned 115 reviews (about 2.2 per week).

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Theaters and Companies

The Abreact (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2011 SIR

The AKT Theatre Project (Wyandotte)
website | reviews

Blackbird Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Detroit Repertory Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

The Encore Musical Theatre Co. (Dexter)
website | reviews

Go Comedy! (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Hilberry Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield)
website | reviews

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co. (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Matrix Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester)
website | reviews

Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews

Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck)
website | reviews

Plowshares Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

Purple Rose Theatre Co. (Chelsea)
website | reviews

The Ringwald Theatre (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Tipping Point Theatre (Northville)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Threefold Productions (Ypsilanti)
website | reviews

Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield Township)
website | reviews

Williamston Theatre (Williamston)
website | reviews







« Reflections of a Rogue | Main | 2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 5 »

2013 Rogue's Gallery, Part 6

Supporting Actor (Drama)

David Daoust, Superior Donuts, Purple Rose Theatre Co.
•David Bendena, 33 Variations, Purple Rose Theatre Co.
•Mikey Brown, Shopping & F***ing, Ringwald Theatre
•Travis Reiff, The Weir, The Abreact
•Jamie Richards, The Homosexuals, Ringwald Theatre

Preternaturally patient Bendena was more than a mere lackey; his impeccable discretion, personal concern, and dogged loyalty made him a companion of greater value than any appreciation could show. Brown’s piddling stories and burbling sobs were hilarious, yet no amount of softer side lessened the severity of the threats this underworld kingpin leveled to those cowering in his debt. Reiff turned up the irony to make his caustic surliness sparkle: the more he insisted on being taken seriously, the more it became apparent that this person needed to be mocked at every waking moment. With one tremendous monologue, Richards not only spoke, but also listened to himself, engendering discoveries and reactions that made his soul-baring soliloquy feel like a conversation. Nevertheless, Daoust’s winning performance found an America-loving immigrant with prejudices matched only by his profanity, a humorously brusque beast who protected his own and managed to be likable entirely in spite of himself.

Supporting Actress (Drama)

Meredith Gifford, The Maids, Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co.
•Luna Alexander, Andronicus Bound, Threefold Productions
•Naz Edwards, My Name is Asher Lev, Jewish Ensemble Theatre/Performance Network Theatre
•Kelly Komlen, Postcards, Detroit Repertory Theatre
•Kristine Stephens, The Weir, The Abreact

Stephens admirably enjoyed the company of strangers while adroitly rebuffing male advances, but the story of her life — and the horrible freshness of that wound — was where she positively shone. Multitudinous Edwards delicately explored the significance of the noteworthy women in the life of a Hasidic Jewish artist: grief-consumed mother, savvy professional contact, and even sexy muse. Proof that hatred breeds hatred, Komlen bellied up to her character’s deeply ingrained racism without hiding behind caricature; for once, inspiring audience loathing was the sign of a job well done. Alexander’s transformation from assertive young woman to lifelong victim was instantaneous and astonishing, culminating in scenes of helplessness and pathos that were frankly hard to watch. Gifford, however, trampled obliviously over the fantasies carefully honed by her charges, expertly suiting the surreal fiction of their world as the vain child, capricious oppressor, and terror eminently worthy of removal.

Lead Actor (Drama)

Keith Kalinowski, Faith Healer, The Abreact
•Samer Ajluni, Death and the Maiden, Matrix Theatre
•Brian Marable, The Mountaintop, Performance Network Theatre
•Richard Payton, Greetings!, Two Muses Theatre
•Kevin Young, The Glass Menagerie, Performance Network Theatre

Presumed guilty from the outset, captive Ajluni gently descended through survival tactics, but broke marvelously open when his character had nothing left to lose. Marable’s astoundingly human Dr. King was potent in his dominion but exquisite in his grief, a jumble of pique and humility as his character surrendered to the higher power in the scene. In a bifurcated role tailor made for showmanship, Payton’s mentally handicapped adult and his benevolent occupying angel did not disappoint, nor did the immaculate transitions between. Young leaned into the writer’s perspective, rooting himself among style and symbolism, but also let honesty guide his wayward youth through the tense and regrettable waters of hindsight. And then there was Kalinowski’s divergently revered and faulty miracle man; even in lamenting the character’s various blunders and weaknesses, the performance never lost the evident sway that encouraged crowds and confidantes alike to put their trust in him.

Lead Actress (Drama)

Carla Milarch, The Glass Menagerie, Performance Network Theatre
•Cassaundra Freeman, Postcards, Detroit Repertory Theatre
•Michelle Mountain, 33 Variations, Purple Rose Theatre Co.
•Carollette Phillips, The Mountaintop, Performance Network Theatre
•Jamie Warrow, Faith Healer, The Abreact

Even as Mountain’s debilitated scholar showed the toll of her physical and familial sacrifices, the wonderment of discovery and satisfaction in her work soared and shone in flares of justification. Faced with no escape from her pestilent memories, the exquisitely wrecked Warrow lashed out with her version of truth, laced with sour regret. Freeman countered whatever oppression and abomination came her way with a streak of unassailable vivaciousness, outsized emotions, and luminous principles. Throughout her unassuming, opinionated, shifty, commanding, confessional, divinely morphing performance, ominous Phillips kept the viewer guessing. Yet the honor goes to Milarch for a portrait of dreams deferred and gentility wasted, tragically undone by her own short-sighted expectations and misplaced strength.

Best Drama

August: Osage County, Ringwald Theatre (director Joe Bailey)
Faith Healer, The Abreact (director Charles Reynolds)
The Glass Menagerie, Performance Network Theatre (director Tim Rhoze)
Marat/Sade, Hilberry Theatre (director Matthew Earnest)
33 Variations, Purple Rose Theatre Co. (director Guy Sanville)

The parallel melodies that inspired 33 Variations also elevated this production, drenched in theme and repetition as it explored the costs of greatness — both direct and derivative. Marat/Sade plumbed its heavily stylized layers and engrossing disorientation to deliver a message stewed in dripping, festering fallacy. For The Glass Menagerie, fresh regret peeked through the uneven slats, dredging up a family trapped by trying to change what they found disappointing in each other. The wistful Faith Healer played with warped narrative to examine a handful of lives not chosen so much as mandated by lack of options, tied to each other across their own fractured, rueful planes. But what gave August: Osage County the final edge was its ability to segment and push in, giving each character his due but also checking in with the larger picture, giving this tremendous generational epic the intimate, buoyant feel of a short story anthology.