Rapid Lemon Production’s production of Love is a Blue Tick Hound found a beautiful way to touch and create an intimate environment for the audience to grow a connection with each character on stage. Audrey Cefaly wrote four different plays that are displayed long enough to grow a bond with each character, whether that would be a waitress laying on the floor of an Italian restaurant or a man on his second date receiving an ear piercing with a potato in his hand. Each part of the show was directed by four different directors who are Donna Ibale, Lee Conderacci, Betse Lyons, and Lauren Erica Jackson, with each one bringing something different to have each play come alive.
When first walking into the theatre, the display on stage is open in the center with props for each scene throughout the show displayed halfway outside the wings. Scene changes over all had some time to them with gathering each prop, big or small, and placing them where they needed to be. Music helps soften the blow while waiting for the next play to start, but because of the larger props, like a sofa or boat, the time was still tedious. Overall, Reese Siedlecki created a wonderful set design to transform a minimal stage, turning it into the house, backyard, or restaurant that it needed to be. Of course, the lighting by Allan Sean Weeks can’t go unappreciated. The setting was never complete until the lights would come up dim like the night sky, or bright for a living room. There was never a lighting cue misplaced or unnecessarily existing. Costume Designer Deana Fisher Brill did a beautiful job dressing these characters up for each play. The costumes were continuously realistic and in modern times the whole show. Each of Brill’s dressing decisions successfully made the character without taking away from the plays.
Each play gives a little something different to reach out to a larger audience. The first play titled Fin & Euba starred Carolyn Koch as Fin and Lauren Erica Jackson as Euba. Taking place in a gnome-filled backyard outside some sort of community home, both Jackson and Koch release truthful acting through their given dialogue. Because of the natural discussion between the two characters and the lack of microphones, often smaller lines were thrown away. Koch often paused as a character choice to make it seem like Fin had to come up with some idea on how to reply. Often the pauses were left too long to stay realistic rather than an actress recalling what she was supposed to say next. The direction of Donna Ibale was simplistic without being forgetful, especially with the pressure of being the opening of the entire show.
Under the direction of Lee Conderacci, the play Clean was the one that seemed to be the most impressionable. This play explores the unlikely love of a waitress and a busboy, Lina and Roberto. Betse Lyons is creative in her movement and dialogue that leaves you admiring the character and somehow oddly finding her relatable. Justin Johnson’s Italian dialect is captivating without stealing from the scene. Johnson brings to life a lovable Italian man in love with a waitress (Lyons), both captivating the audience with their unlikely love story.
Opening after intermission is The Gulf directed by Betse Lyons. It would seem to be a challenge to set and direct a play that takes place in a boat, limiting a lot of the stage for blocking, but Lyons as well as the two actresses involved kept what they could work with alive and entertaining. Donna Ibale and Aladrian C. Wetzel played the scene out swiftly and stayed connected to each other as well as the characters, Kendra and Betty, the entire time. Ibale’s soft-spoken, book-loving character wonderfully built Wetzel’s abrasive and witty character up just enough for each one-liner to successfully transfer to the audience.
The final play of the show really ended with a wonderful bang. Directed by Lauren Erica Jackson, Stuck held delightful sentiment mixed with perfectly timed comedy. Stage chemistry was strong through each play especially between the two characters Bob and Maggie, played by Mike Smith and Lee Conderacci. Out of all the plays, this one held great energy given by Conderacci the entire time. In the middle of the play, Conderacci delivers an incredible monologue. Smith, on the other hand, helps amplify Conderacci’s performance without stealing the attention from her too much.
The key thing that made this show fantastic was the chemistry within each play. There was not a dull or awkward moment with whatever each character had to say to keep the scene going. What makes this show standout is how every play is directed by a different woman. Kudos to the artistic director, Lance Bankerd, for letting these women throw their ideas into these plays to show their imagination and ideas. The show is a worthwhile watch no matter who you are.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with one intermission
Love is a Blue Tick Hound (And Other Remedies for the Common Ache) plays through January 21, 2018 with Rapid Lemon Productions as a part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival at the Baltimore Theatre Project— 45 W. Preston Street in the Mt. Vernon/Station North Arts District of Baltimore, MD. For tickets call the box office at (410) 752-8558 or purchase them online.
Love is a Blue Tick Hound (And Other Remedies for the Common Ache will play February 9th through the 17th of 2018 in Washington, DC as a continuation of the Women’s Voice Theater Festival. Tickets for that event can be purchased here. https://www.capitalfringe.org/events/1179-love-is-a-blue-tick-hound