@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

BOB: A life in 5 acts

By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, directed by Ceil Herman

  • L to R: Sam Damon (Sagé), PJ Waggaman (chorus), Tiffany Tyson (Kim), Bobby Senecal (Bob), McKensi Karnes (Caitlyn) and Parrish Androh (James)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob) and Sam Damon (Gunther)
  • L to R: Tiffany Tyson (Vera) and Bobby Senecal (Bob)
  • L to R: Ilene Steele (Jeanine), Sam Danon (Fortune Cookie) and Bobby Senecal (Bob)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob)
  • L to R: Tiffany Tyson (Vera), PJ Waggaman (Croupier), Bobby Senecal (Bob), McKensi Karnes (Roulette Wheel), Parrish Androh (chorus), Ilene Steele (chorus), and Sam Damon (chorus)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob), Tiffany Tyson (car), McKensi Karnes (car seat),Sam Damon (car), and Ilene Steele (Jeanine)
  • L to R: Ilene Steele (chorus), Tiffany Tyson (toilet), PJ Waggaman (chorus), McKensi Karnes (Hellen), Parrish Androh (chorus), and Sam Damon (chorus)
  • L to R: McKensi Karnes (Helen) and Sam Damon (Gunther)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob) and Sam Damon (Gunther)
  • L to R: Tiffany Tyson (phone booth), McKensi Karnes (Helen), Bobby Senecal (Bob) and Sam Damon (Gunther)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob) and McKensi Karnes (Amelia)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob) and Ilene Steele (Jeanine)
  • L to R: McKensi Karnes (Helen), Ilene Steele (chorus), and Bobby Senecal (Bob)
  • L to R: Sam Damon (Gunther), PJ Waggaman (Connor), McKensi Karnes (Amelia) and Ilene Steele (Jeanine)
  • L to R: Tiffany Tyson (Waitress), Bobby Senecal (Bob), Ilene Steele (Waitress), Parrish Androh (Waitress) and Sam Damon (Waitress)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob) and McKensi Karnes (Helen)
  • L to R: PJ Waggaman (Connor), Ilene Steele (Jeanine), and Bobby Senecal (Bob)
  • L to R: Bobby Senecal (Bob) and McKensi Karnes (Amelia)

Aug 21-Sep 13, 2015

FRI AUG 21,28, SEP 4,11*| 8:00 PM
SAT AUG 22,29, SEP 5,12*| 8:00 PM
SUN AUG 30, SEP 6,3, 13* | 2:30 PM
THRS SEP 3 | 7:00 PM
* RUN EXTENDED

Description

"Bob: A Life in Five Acts," written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and is the first production of No Strings Theatre Company's 2015-2016 season and is directed by NSTC's Artistic Director, Ceil Herman. The play, which premiered at the Humana Festival of New Plays in Louisville, KY in 2011, opens on Friday, August 21 and runs through Sunday, September 6 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N Downtown Mall in Las Cruces.



NSTC is thrilled that this year, their patrons will be treated to a completely different seating configuration and new chairs and risers at the Black Box Theatre.

An absurdist tale of the American dream. Through a Brechtian device of distancing the audience from the events of the play, each act is announced by a 6 member chorus who tell the audience what to expect. However, there are plenty of surprises as Bob is followed from his birth at a White Castle hamburger stand through the rest stops of American on his journey to find himself. The chorus also performs dances in between the acts and the costume changes from character to character are, in large part, accomplished onstage. The chorus members each play 5 or 6 different characters as well as inanimate objects. The play has been described as a comic exploration of American mythology and values, the treacherous pursuit of happiness and discovering what it means to be truly "great."

Credits

Amelia
Bob
Caitlyn
Car
Car
Car Seat
Chorus
Chorus
Chorus
Chorus
Connor
Croupier
Fortune Cookie
Gunther
Hellen
James
Jeanine
Kim
Phone Booth
Roulette Wheel
Sage
Toilet
Vera
Waitress
Waitress
Waitress
Waitress
Director
Written By

Reviews

'Bob,' a life in many laughs
- By Marissa Bond, Las Cruces Bulletin

"Bob: A Life in 5 Acts," currently playing at the Black Box Theatre, is a creative, witty send-up of the epic tale, examining potential, attachment, and what it means to be great.

The Black Box Theatre feels like a brand new venue - new seats, new coat of paint and new configurations. The new chairs and platforms allow the space to take full advantage of the black box style, with all of its versatility and experimentation. The configuration for "Bob" is almost a checkmark - a long central section and a slanted wing designed, owner and director Ceil Herman said, so there isn't a bad seat in the house.

The stage was bare but for a collection of risers, two clothing racks and a projectionist's screen canted towards the audience. While some physical props were used, the actors themselves became props and furniture. This is a delightful conceit that utilizes the stretching boundaries and unique talents of live theater.

Costume changes, too, took place on stage - don't worry, the costumes were all layered over a black base. The effect dissolved the walls of onstage and off, promising a universe complete in a black box.

The Chorus, which shared all the non-Bob roles, represented a great range of ages and experience.

Parish Androh is new to the Black Box Theatre, and has charm and expressiveness that I hope to see more of in the future.

Sam Damon is affable and spot-on with his comedic timing and delivery.

McKensi Karnes has a way about her - she has an ineffable talent for connecting with the audience, allowing her to remain empathetic in complex and morally ambiguous roles.

I have never seen Ilene Steele perform before, but her portrayal of Jeanine, the White Castle employee who takes the abandoned baby Bob and raises him in her beige Chevy Malibu during a cross-country montage, was warm, bright and endearing.

Tiffany Tyson reprises the comedic timing and range of expression that were so effective during the Black Box's recent "Arabian Nights."

Finally - in terms of alphabetizing alone - it is a pleasure to have veteran actor PJ Waggaman return to Las Cruces theater after time spent in Los Angeles.

During the play, there were times when members of the Chorus would watch the events unfold as an auxiliary onstage audience. There were times they would turn away and face the wall. At times they would choreograph an emphasis to the words. I feel it will take more than one viewing to unpack the work of the Chorus - as cast, set, audience and walls they provide so much to watch and interpret.

Perhaps the name connection was part of it, but Bobby Senecal is perfectly cast as Bob. It says something for talent when, despite being well over six feet tall and sporting a beard, Senecal plays a shockingly convincing baby. His character arc from quavering newborn to curious sponge of a boy to petulant preteen to cynical adult is impressive in its authenticity.

The end of each act is punctuated with a dance choreographed by Nora Thomas, reflecting a theme of the previous act. Each dance was different in tone and style, fitting the strengths of the actors. I was particularly charmed - as I am sure we are meant to be - by the dance of hope, performed with infectious glee by Tyson.

Humor is, more or less, subjective. That being said, I think the script is freaking hilarious. I was surprised that some of the jokes that I was laughing at didn't seem to land, and I was left as the awkward, loud laugher. That is not to say that none of the jokes landed - those that did brought down the house - but the script was littered with sly, offhand humor worth listening for.

"Bob" is a different sort of play. It is unconventional in its script and execution. However, its unconventionality is not forced. It gives us its story - humorous, absurd, authentic - like an embrace, enveloping the audience with the warm comfort of the message that you are not alone.

"Bob: A Life in 5 Acts" runs through Sunday, Sept. 6, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3. Tickets are $12 regular admission, $10 students and seniors, and all seats on Thursday are $8. For more information or to make reservations, call the Black Box Theatre at 523-1223.

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