Know Theatre, of all the theatres in Cincinnati, has a knack for producing quirky and unusual plays. Sometimes they work very well (PLUTO, HARRY AND THE THIEF) and sometimes they don’t. I love risk-taking and I love what Know Theatre is doing, especially under this new Hungerford/Winters regime but I didn’t love BUREAU OF MISSING PERSONS. That doesn’t mean that you won’t, though! Especially if you’ve never been to this wonderfully weird playhouse on Jackson Street you should take advantage of The Welcome Experiment and see it on Wednesday night free of charge . . .and donations are always accepted.
This fantasy-filled script is about a woman who’s suffered a trauma and the attempts of people who love her to help her move on with her life. There are a lot of great ideas here, several wonderful performances, but its the play itself that loses steam fairly early on for me. Kate Glasheen does her darndest to make us care about “Angela” and her breakdown. Rico Reid as her exasperated fiancée “Richard” is marvelous, Burgess Byrd is surprisingly restrained as the mysterious and snarky “Patrice,” and Sam Ray is sweet and kind as a “Simon”, a Kindergarten teacher with his own personal demons. Adrienne Underhill plays “Vivian,” Angela’s mother.
I prefer a more straightforward story than this one; there’s too many loose ends in the logic and too much unsatisfying magical mystery for me. Also, lines like “he’s taller than you” when this simply isn’t true and rubbing hands through the hair of a mostly bald actor don’t help my engagement in an already fanciful show. Again, though, just because it’s not my cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s not good or that you won’t love it. I strongly encourage you to go see for yourself. Director Tamara Winters has staged this 90 minutes well, with good use of the space and solid pacing. And her actors seem to have bought into the story. There’s a level of dedication here by most of the cast that only comes from a strong leader and Winters has an infectious passion. You can read more about her here.
The set, lighting, sound, and costumes are all of high-grade professional quality. The technical crew at Know is one of the most consistent and may do the most with the least of any professional theatre in the area.
And today we were treated to some wonderful music courtesy of Jackson Street Market partner Unity Productions and up-and-coming acoustic artist Austin Wallace before the house opened.
BUREAU OF MISSING PERSONS runs through December 20th. I would love to hear your thoughts about it so go support this wonderful cutting-edge theatre company and tell us all what you think! Tickets are available by clicking here.
Also, Hungerford announced this weekend that their next production would be THE HANDMAID’S TALE, a one woman show directed by Brian Isaac Phillips and starring Corinne Mohlenhoff. There’s lots going on here and it’s exciting to see!