A World Premiere is an exciting adventure. So many artists are to be congratulated on their perilous journey of creation. In this case, it is the fabulous case of “Made in America,” premiering at Dobama Theatre, under the artistic umbrella of Nathan Motta (Artistic Director). He has provided and supported the arena for the champions to enter.
Enter Dobama Artistic Director Emeritus Joel Hammer (Playwright) who has created a sales call from hell that delivers so many twists and turns that, at times, it reminded me of a blend of “House of Cards” and “Dangerous Liaisons” A hotel bar. Esther, a savvy sales rep, and Barry, a buyer for a manufacturing company, finally meet to “seal the deal” after months of negotiating over the phone. Upon seeing each other, they begin a cat and mouse game that falls into dangerous territory. But all is not what it seems. As Hammer describes “Made in America,” he makes reference to one of the definitions in the Urban Dictionary for the word maid: “to have your cover blown, to have your real identity revealed.” This is the seed of “Made in America.” It is indeed that seed that blossoms into a terrific game of cat and mouse between just two characters, inhabited by actors at the top of their game. For anyone who has had a sales job, this is a smorgasbord of every tactic and underhanded move that everyone has used. But to the delight of many, Hammer creates a brilliant move that shocks everyone and provides a second act of epic proportions. But you can’t keep a good man down. In fact, you will lose count of who is winning, but it is so damn entertaining, it just adds to the party.
Scott Miller helms this piece with generous guidance shaping the events into a smooth delivery. With very creative use of the space, he manages to move the actors around one table and chairs and still maintain sharp focus. The technical staff provides exemplary work. Marcus Dana continues his streak of providing some of the best lighting designs in the area. Costumes (Tesia Benson) were great. I could have used a little more juice on the sound—hard to hear--but the music selections used were very cool and, lo and behold, held some observational content.
Now we come to the two actors that enter the ring of “Made in American:” Barry (Joel Hammer) and Esther (Colleen Longshaw). Both actors deliver tremendously rounded performances. Hammer makes you want to smack the hell out of Barry. He is the ultimate client that holds the cards and loves to watch you dance in order to get the sale. It is a sense of power that is insulting, and Hammer nails the slimy sales dance and the intellectual maneuvers. But then, everything comes with a price. Longshaw provides a stunning and surprising voyage into her character. With the hurdles of race and gender, she leaps over each one with deft choices that have you worried, scared, and then cheering for her. When she “goes to church,” it reminds me of running up the steps like Rocky, then turning around and yelling “F U”. She is mesmerizing to watch. Their dance together is a masterful evening of hide and seek, using truth and intention as foils.
Congrats to all involved and best wishes for a great run.
Kevin Joseph Kelly
March 7 - April 6
Saturday, March 8 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. - Pay-as-You-Can
Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 21 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 23 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 28 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 30 at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 4 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 5 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 6 at 2:30 p.m.
$10-$26 Reserved Seating
Order Tickets Online
2340 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118