Regional Reviews: Phoenix
There are lots of twists and turns in the plot, so I'll try to be as vague as possible in order to not spoil things for those who see the show. Best friends Owen and Trent live together (or actually "loser" Trent freeloads off of Owen). Unable to hold a job, and having dropped out of college, the only thing Trent can hold onto is his girlfriend Olivia. However, even Olivia occasionally questions why she sticks with him. Owen, fed up with Trent's laziness and tired of always paying for him, tells Trent he has just a few days to pay what he owes in past rent. Trent turns to his caring mom for help, but she also refuses to bail him out, deciding it's finally time he learn from his mistakes. With nowhere else to turn, Trent decides to take drastic steps to get out of debt.
Maticic writes very authentic dialogue and characters. While you may think you know where the plot is going, he takes it to unexpected places, which is very good. The dramatic scenes, while touching, are a bit less effective, only because of how funny the scenes are leading up to them. The more serious scenes catch the audience a bit off guard, and they don't quite know how to react. But that's O.K., as surprise can be a good thing, making the audience pay attention since they aren't quite sure what will come next. But there is a bit of unevenness, especially in the tone toward the last half of the second act, which is my only complaint about the play. Overall, it is a good new work.
The cast deliver the humorous lines and situations very well. The close friendships among company members David Magadan, Devon Mahon, and Shelby Maticic are apparent in their ease in portraying close friends Owen, Trent, and Olivia, respectively. All three excel in playing these characters, ensuring the funny moments land effectively while delivering the emotional moments equally as well. Trent's realization that he has no place left to turn is played astutely as is the frustration that Owen feels. Also, the fight scenes between the two men are well conveyed.
Megan O'Connor is heartbreaking as Trent's mom while Chelsea Jauregui is hilarious as Owen's mother. The two roles are almost mirror images of each other, which is a nice move by the author, but we understand they both love their sons equally due to the way O'Connor and Jauregui portray them. Mat Vansen adds a few bright moments as several characters, including Owen's intrusive neighbor and a very funny yoga instructor. My only complaint with the cast is O'Connor and Jauregui don't quite look old enough to be Magadan and Mahon's mothersbut they are both very good actresses so they manage to make us overlook the age issue.
Fernando Perez is effective with his direction, not letting the tone shifts be too abrupt and staging the emotional scenes with a natural ease. He make sure the comedic moments pop and he does well with the two dream sequences in the play, with the added benefit of Jessica Holt's smart lighting design which pinpoints the action in those segments and is also used quite well in the emotional monologues. Brian Maticic also created the efficient set design which uses a revolving wall and a floor that can be quickly lifted to become a back wall in order to quickly change settings.
Well directed, with a talented cast, Windfall is an unpredictable black comedy that will keep you guessing. It is witty and thoughtful, with realistic characters and natural dialogueanother welcome new play from Brian Maticic and Brelby Theatre Company.
The Brelby Theatre Company production of Windfall runs through February 13th, 2016, with performances at 6835 N 58th Avenue in Glendale. Tickets are available at www.brelby.com or by phone at (623) 282-2781.
Director: Fernando Perez