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REVIEW - Caleb McBroom, Coastal Bend Theatre Guide

"Blame it on Beckett" by John Morogiello

There's a certain type of show that relishes in poking fun at theatre and "Blame it on Beckett" is a prime example of that type of show. The play centers around a young theatre professional, played by Heidi Bishop, who is eager to intern with a dramaturge. You may not know, but a dramaturge is someone who, among other things, provides research for a play before and during production. The dramaturge in this play, played by Brandon Besse, spends most of his time reading plays and determining whether they're good enough for the non-profit theatre he works at to produce. Or at least he should, but he's of the opinion that only a handful of good plays have been written since the days of Aeschylus. His holier than thou, elitist attitude perfectly encapsulates a very present type of person in the arts culture. If you've ever talked to someone who crushed your opinion with a casual roll of the eyes, you know this type of person. Thankfully, his cynicism is balanced out by the optimism and eager attitude of the intern. 
While all of the actors gave very realistic performances, one of the biggest stars to the trained eye was the direction from Christopher Lee Herod. Herod committed to the bold choice of putting the whole play in front of the closed curtain, almost as if to remind you that this is a statement about theatre. The cynical dramaturge says his job isn't to encourage new playwrights but to defend the greats from the efforts of the novices. Towards the end of the show, I wondered if Herod's choice to put the play in front of the curtain represented all of the politics of theatre coming before what's important, actually encouraging new art. Regardless, it was a great choice and an unexpected change of pace. 
The stage was littered and cluttered, but the mess actually worked to the advantage of the story as the characters took turns organizing and de-organizing the office as the play went on. While a mess can usually spell disaster, the careful management of the mess by Herod and believable use by the actors kept the mess from ever becoming a problem. Overall, I saw a careful management of space, props, and actors, proving Christopher Lee Herod true when he declares himself a perfectionist. His show may not have been perfect, but it's clear how hard he tried.

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