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Sunday, 19 February 2012 00:24

'Autobahn': More than just a highway.

Written by Shahnaz Ahmed
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The Details

'Autobahn':  More than just a highway.

Neil Labute's Autobahn is a pleasant twist from the usual structure of plays. It is a compilation of seven short plays, presented as one. Each vignette, or short one act takes place in the front seat of an automobile with two characters, and of course, different situations that range from  serious to funny to absurd.

The show starts with the long car ride home of a mother with her daughter who has just gotten out of rehab. There's humor when a couple discover the reason for making a trip to a scenic outlook point. The road trip to a family cabin in the woods will leave you feeling very creeped out, and when one friend discusses retrieving a Nintendo 64, I couldn't help laughing. There are more plays, more scenes. It'll take you from the surreal to the funny, from the creepy to reality, from shock to more shock and from crazy to crazier. Autobahn is difficult to describe, but very easy to recommend.

With an acting cast of Mark Abels, Betsy Bowman, Caroline Kidwell, Phil C. Leveling, Janice Mantovani, Jared Sanz-Agero and Ellie Schwetye how can one go wrong? I came from the show and I had to think long and hard about which actors I thought needed special mention and it's not an easy task. Ellie Schwitye took over the stage in the first play. I loved how she sucked the soda through her straw in absolute oblivion of life itself. Janice had a quiet role in that first vignette, but her face did a lot of the acting. Very impressive. I must mention Janice, as she was quite vocal in the fifth vignette. I loved how she molded her character and teased the audience with her splendor.

The second vignette sparkled because of Betsy and Phil. How could they have done any better? No, they couldn't. With spot on facial expressions from both actors, it's easy to feel the pull of their characters. Phil was in three of the vignettes and each time I felt drawn by his character. Great performance.

The third vignette introduces us to Mark and Caroline. Caroline is a junior at Clayton High School and I was quite impressed by her acting. She is performing with other well established actors and she's not afraid to assert her talent on the stage. Good job! Mark is a seasoned actor and it showed in his ease of being his assigned character. Mark's acting was so on cue that it gave me a very creepy feeling at times, as one his characters should.

The fourth vignette introduces us to Jared. He was so relaxed as his character, I was immediately sucked in laughing. Jared's first vignette is played with Phil and it was a pleasure watching these men passing a can of beer as they are driving and talking.

And that is what is brilliant about this play. The set was extremely minimal with just front car seats and a driver steering wheel and yet the actors suspended our disbelief and I felt like the car in front of us was moving. I would look to see if the actors kept their eyes on the road for fear of a collision as they talked, and when they turned I wanted to make sure they were careful. Yes, such simplicity yet such realism. Great job to all the actors.

This show was directed by GP Hunsaker, Mark Kelley, Nick Moramarco and Landon Shaw. If the actors were brilliant, I would say the directions were exact. I'm sure these directors are very proud of their cast for putting up a spectacular performance.

The lights and sounds in this show was adequate.

I feel like I've rambled in this review but to be concise; this play is excellent and very well acted. It'll make you think. If you are into thought provoking drama, then make the trip down to Soundstage. You'll be so glad you did.

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