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‘Summer Brave’ at Robinson

Cappies Review

>“Some girls are pretty. Some girls are smart,” laments Millie Owens, the smart sister of the prettiest girl in town, Madge, sighs. Competition between the sisters, a dramatic love-triangle, and the desperation of realizing one’s own situation is not as it seems are all prominently revealed in Robinson Secondary School’s production of “Summer Brave.”

“Summer Brave” is the revised version of William Inge’s Pulitzer prize-winning play, “Picnic.” The play is set in the early 1950s, in a small town in Kansas. It follows the tale of Madge Owens and those around her, as the characters struggle to find themselves and choose their paths in life amid a Labor Day celebration. It realistically encompasses the competitive relationships between family members and the desires of parents to keep their children from repeating their mistakes.

Robinson Secondary School’s technical crew did an excellent job. Two realistic small-town houses, designed and lead by Carl Schwartz, complete with porches, clotheslines and a white picket fence set the scene accurately and believably, although parts appeared unstable. The incredible cyc lighting in the background portrayed a genuinely moving sun and a sky that changed colors with perfect, seamless transitions thanks to lighting designer Paul Mayo. Costumes by Marissa Kleiman helped to transport the audience into their little town and create distinct, believable characters. Although some age makeup effects were a bit too harsh for the close proximity of the audience to the actors, the hair was beautifully done.

Christy Fischer exhibited a realistic portrayal of Madge Owens, the pretty sister in the family. Her emotional commitment to the character was clear and her overall portrayal of the vain, pretty girl who yearns for more than a life as a housewife was very believable. Kyle Lynch played Hal Carter, the bad boy of the show and college friend of Madge’s boyfriend, Alan Seymour (Jason Rath) excellently. The chemistry between Fischer and Lynch was electric and Lynch portrayed his character’s outwardly easy manner and contrasting emotional intensity with undeniable skill. Fabiolla Brennecke’s performance as Rosemary Sydney, an “old maid schoolteacher” leant the character complexity and heart. While some performances lacked emotional build, Brennecke’s excellent comic timing and emotional commitment to her character make for a believable and endearing character.

Newsboy (Jackson Viccora), Bomber (Josh Israel) and Beano (Adam Bradley) created a realistic an hilarious gang of ruffians, inciting bursts of laughter throughout the audience with their raunchy, yet adorable adoration of Madge. Featured characters like the adorable Mrs. Potts (Hannah Sikora) and the dorky Howard Bevans (TJ Albertson) bring yet more comedic relief to this performance.

This production was carried by the talented lead actors and skillful tech. The cast felt like a small-town family that transported the audience to their small-town home.