Transport Group revives William Inge's first play, which explores the inevitable disappointment of the ever-seductive American Dream through sex, joy, doubt, addiction, and rage. More…
In an old and cluttered house in the Midwest, a middle-aged couple lives one day to the next: Lola, breathless with fear of silence and solitude, and Doc, a recovering alcoholic. Into their lives comes Marie, so flush with the riches of youth that they can no longer deny how they misspent their own. Their fragile acceptance of their stifling reality is suddenly and brutally tested as Inge mercilessly exposes the pain and regret of the past that's unmasked by Marie's mere presence. 'Come Back, Little Sheba' is performed in rotating repertory with Inge's 'Picnic.'
“Transport Group's superb mounting of both of these plays in repertory is staged by director Jack Cummings III in an intimate environment that allows natural performances and gentle nuances…The lengthy playing space allows for scenes on one side to be countered by silent actions on the other...With riveting simplicity and realism, Heather Mac Rae gives a heartbreaking performance...The finely acted pair offer beautifully subtle glimpses of human longings.” Full Review
"The shows depict lives in turmoil with deceptive simplicity — an elusive quality that the Transport Group captures...Inge's work burst with generous humanity and possessed a sure grasp on the power of intimacy — something these productions skillfully bring to the fore...The productions work well together because Mr. Cummings and his cast are in sync with Inge’s sensibility, aware as he was that understatement is powerful." Full Review
"These revivals, staged by Jack Cummings III and acted by a first-class ensemble cast, will leave you in no doubt that Inge was one of America’s half-dozen greatest playwrights...Simplicity and intimacy are the keys to these stagings...This kind of bare-bones staging works only if the actors are strong enough not to need to hide behind the production. Mr. Cummings’s cast delivers the goods...In the end, though, Mr. Cummings is the hero of the piece." Full Review
"The acting company is outstanding, with six actors of the company performing in both plays. As I saw both shows in one day, it was fascinating to see the differences in characterizations performed by Mac Rae, Patterson, Elless, Vickers, Cariani, and Jennifer Piech...In general, the performances might be adjudged as a bit 'over-the-top'...I suspect what might be called 'stylization' was the choice of director Cummings, and for me, this was a pleasure." Full Review
""If these productions don't convince you that Inge is one of our finest playwrights, nothing will...If 'Come Back, Little Sheba' is a little less successful, it's not entirely the company's fault...'Come Back, Little Sheba' is tricky to stage, especially the first act...In addition, the performances don't quite rise to the level of 'Picnic'...Still, Kolinski catches the turmoil raging under the surface of Doc's character, and he and Mac Rae get full value out of the brutal Act II encounter." Full Review
"Mac Rae is perfect as the depressed housewife who longs for more. We see a truthfulness in her performance. Joseph Kolinski nails the desperation and longing that sinks him into oblivion. John Cariani is highly amusing as the two mailmen and the milkman...Jack Cummings lll’s direction allows Inge’s words to speak for themselves and that is the magic of the Transport Group. He brings these worlds up close and personal." Full Review
"Despite heavy-handed direction, these revivals of two well-known, insightful and meticulously written works succeed...The play and the actors transcend Mr. Cummings’ intrusive direction...Ms. Mac Rae’s personality shines through, and ultimately it’s a moving performance that holds interest...Mr. Kolinski gives a knockout performance that skillfully alternates between sunny, sullen and roaring...Despite its presentational excesses, this production affirms the play’s power." Full Review
"Two excellent productions featuring a terrific cast that blows the dust off these somewhat dated classics...Jack Cummings III directs these plays with loving detail...Inge's depiction of women is decidedly of its time...But then there's Elless...Elless' performances are, by themselves, worth the price of admission...Cummings can't prevent the plots from veering toward the melodramatic at times, but their power for us today is that they open windows into a past that we often forget existed." Full Review
"Revelatory reassessments of 'Come Back, Little Sheba' and, especially, 'Picnic,' perceptively directed by Cummings...Cummings’ productions rescue both 'Sheba' and 'Picnic' from the customary bonds of realistic staging...Liberated from their usual ultra-naturalistic trappings, both plays appear richer and more significant than in recent revivals; and the characters’ time-bound slang, as well as Inge’s occasional dramaturgical grandiosity, seem somehow outside time, rather than out of date." Full Review
“Heather Mac Rae gives a beautifully calibrated performance as Lola Delaney…The triumph of Mac Rae’s portrayal is that she lets us see the beguiling young woman Lola once was...There is an essential sweetness, even an innocence that grabs our sympathy…Joseph Kolinski delivers a strong turn as Doc. The turmoil seething below the careful demeanor is always apparent, threading the play’s quiet, seemingly uneventful moments with a foreboding tension.” Full Review
"The emotional climax in Act II is extremely difficult to watch, but it also features the strongest acting...The show's themes are heavy, and the small size of the theatre and proximity to the actors increase the intensity exponentially. It is crucial to go into the show in the correct mindset. You cannot see this piece and expect to go about your day normally. It gets under your skin and makes you examine your own family, particularly if you grew up in the Midwest." Full Review
"As long as people experience emotions of loneliness and regret, these dramas will still be relevant, as Transport Group's William Inge in Rep proves...Some refer to Inge's plays as dated, but I've never found that. The symbolism and parallels between the older and younger characters can be a little heavy-handed, but there is so much truth that still resonates. Cummings has placed both plays in an intimate setting, which makes the sadness even more palpable." Full Review
"Engaging and relevant...The desperate starkness of Inge’s plays is particularly relevant and challenging in this post-election era...Under Jack Cummings III’s direction, the members of the ensemble cast uniformly deliver authentic and believable performances...He chooses to direct 'Come Back, Little Sheba' broadly. There is no subtlety there and that detracts from the power of Inge’s script." Full Review
"Kolinski is terrific...Mac Rae overdoes the blankness...She seems more catatonic than unhappy...With such intimacy between audience and actors, a little goes a long way, which is why the overdone physicality and occasional bit of shtick stick out so profoundly...Director Jack Cummings III does a wonderful job with many small and telling details...Even Cummings can’t help the plays from sometimes veering into melodrama. Powerful yes, but a bit dated as well." Full Review
"If Inge seems outdated and somewhat clumsy to current theatergoers, his plays still have the insights and dramatic tension that make them worth revival...But there are problems. Presenting Inge in repertory makes it painfully obvious just how similar his plays are...If much of 'Picnic' and 'Come Back, Little Sheba' is overwrought and obvious, the two plays do give us a picture of middle America back in the 1950s." Full Review
"'Sheba’s' script—at least its first act—comes off these days mostly as clunky and overwritten...Transport Group’s new staging doesn’t do the script any favors by presenting much of the action in a broad, cartoonish way. Director Jack Cummings III frequently has his actors move in an overly choreographed manner...What happens to Lola should be devastating, and with Mac Rae it really isn’t. Kolinski, on the other hand, gives an engrossing, multi-layered performance." Full Review
"Lola has a lot going on under the surface, as she navigates the thin ice that is spousal sobriety. It takes a tedious two hours, however, for the playwright and performers to delve to that level...Mac Rae never convinces as a fully rounded, credible character—partly because Mac Rae, at 70, is seriously miscast...Inge does not hold back on the psychosexual subtext—naughty territory for the time period, but heavy-handed today." Full Review
“Performances feel exaggerated and artificial...Despite strong comic performances (that don’t succeed as well as they could because they lack the necessary dramatic counterpoint) from John Cariani, the cast fails to adequately plumb the plays’ deadly serious depths. When complex characters are not given their adequate due, they become one dimensional. 'Sheba' ends up feeling like an afterschool special about the dangers of ‘going all the way.’” Full Review
"Sadly, everything in this production feels misguided...Seeing 'Picnic' and 'Sheba' back to back does neither show any favors. Their bland similarity is emphasized and lessens whatever impact each might have on their own...One after the other, 'Picnic' and 'Sheba' don’t evince recurring themes but simply feel like the same story done with a mild twist to make it seem new...The casting only emphasizes this...Happily, actors can make hay even with soapy material." Full Review
See it if Tremendous writing and acting, about a late middle aged couple struggling with their lost youth. Emphasis on the bygone sexuality.
Don't see it if While some of the 1950's gender roles and sexual mores are dated, the deeper themes are eternal.
See it if Transport Group is fantastic re: staging of shows. The cast is great.We have not seen a production in more than 20 years, Inge is a fav.
Don't see it if you only need new works. You must be ready to "sit in the laps" of the actors" Only disappointment was seeing David Greenspan for (cont.)
See it if You want to see very good performances. Enjoy spare, well staged shows. Like serious work that explores passage of time's effect on self.
Don't see it if You don't like sort of dark theme personal exploration stories. You aren't a fan of the Inge style.
See it if you want to understand the mores of the Cold War era and be able to question the values we've lost since then. The acting was superb.
Don't see it if you don't have patience for a non-90-minute play that takes its time to tell a poignant story. You don't care about the 1950s.
See it if You want to see great acting. You want to see a housewife that longs for more. You want to see a husband battling issues.
Don't see it if You don't like up close and personal performances. You don't want to be entertained. You are not interested in a play from 60+ years ago.
See it if you've forgotten how emotionally fraught William Inge's brand of kitchen-sink realism can be... even here in his first play!
Don't see it if intense performances literally within arms' reach violates your sense of personal space.
See it if you are a fan of Inge, are curious how this production differs from the film or other versions, want to see the play through modern eyes
Don't see it if you're not a fan of Inge or 50's drama, expect more action or don't like an immersive set that puts actors right next to you
See it if You want to see a classic play done very effectively. The audience is incredibly close to the action. I loved the set for this.
Don't see it if You want to see a fun short play. This is serious and long. No laughs in this one.
See it if You would appreciate a good staging of an old classic. You like to analyze characters to understand the climax of the play.
Don't see it if You don't care for dated shows [1950's] or you find dramas about disillusioned older people depressing.
See it if you want to see a well acted drama about a couple on the edge. It might seem over the top and dated. Still a classic and worth seeing
Don't see it if You just can't stand plays about an abusive and alcoholic husband
See it if You enjoy good, down-home dramas about the lives of ordinary folks just hanging out there trying to live their lives. That simple. Well done
Don't see it if If want to see a show that makes you laugh and dazzles your eyes. Not here. Life is not satisfying, at all. No way out.
See it if you want to feel the intimacy of this play, sitting as if in the living room.
Don't see it if dark, hidden subject matter from other times will not impact you, simply because they are more talked about in present times.
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