REVIEW: Skeleton Crew at Playcrafters Barn Theatre
Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s current production of Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau, here directed by Marquita Reynolds, may sound like it’s a Halloween spoof, but it’s actually much scarier and is particularly relevant in the midst of the current SAG and UAW labor disputes.
After all, what could be scarier to a blue collar worker living paycheck to paycheck than losing their job? This play was nominated for scads of theatre awards and garnered a Best Actress Tony Award for Phylicia Rashad during its 2016 run on Broadway.
The action takes place in the break room of a Detroit auto plant that is on the verge of closing during the 2008 recession and focuses on four employees: Faye, the queer, no-nonsense, chain smoking 50 year-old, cancer patient and union rep who has been at the plant for 30 years; Shanita, the pregnant 20-something line worker who actually takes pride in her work; Dez, a sassy also 20-something guy with ambitions to open his own auto shop; and Reggie, their deeply conflicted supervisor who is treading the fine line between management and his former colleagues.
The play draws us into the challenges these characters face and focuses on the subtle and ever-shifting class and distinctions among Black people.
Capturing the essence of Faye is the talented Alisha Hanes who delivers a strong performance; as Reggie is Kermit Thomas, bringing Shanita to life is Kahlia Denise and Dez is portrayed by Anthony Mitchell. All have extensive backgrounds in theatre and showcase their acting chops in this production. However, during the course of the action all of them had times when their volume dropped making them difficult to hear especially when they were upstage or turned toward upstage to speak. I chalked this up to opening night jitters
Reynolds also has an extensive theatre résumé but this is her first foray into directing and while she delivers a strong thought provoking show I also have to observe that scene changes and cue pickups were a bit slow which affected the overall pacing. These can also be attributed to opening night jitters and are easy to remedy.
Skeleton Crew continues at Playcrafters Barn Theatre, 4950 – 35th Avenue in Moline, Friday and Saturday, October13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 15 at 3:00 p.m.
I’m Chris Hicks…break a leg.