Director Rhonda Clark kicks off Carpenter Square’s 2011-2012 season in a brand new location with “Superior Donuts” by Tracy Letts. Letts has written a provocative story once again and Clark directs with sensitivity and skill. The two main characters meet as employer and new employee at the donut shop in uptown Chicago called Superior Donuts. Owner, Arthur Przybyszewski is a child of the sixties whose life never went beyond his dreams. Shawn Hicks brings the character to dreary life in a series of short monologues setting up the reason for past and future action and inaction. Skip Hill, as the enthusiastic young optimist Franco Wicks, comes to work at Superior Donuts and is able to eventually inspire his boss to accept responsibility.
While the story is one most of us are familiar with in a mundane, general sense these two actors bring an interesting specificity in delivery and characterization. Hill is particularly effective as the cocky young black man who hides artistic talent and intellectual depth behind his irritating façade. It is not too difficult for a young black man to play this stereotype accurately; however it is rarely done so that the façade actually reveals the artistic genius lurking within. Hill does this superbly, although the second act weakens slightly at climax. This however, is Mr. P’s hour. The moment that the burned out old hippie discovers that he still has a chance to prove he is alive is one that Hicks captures perfectly.
Max Tarasov, the often inebriated Russian vodka drinker who owns the store next door is masterfully done by Terry Veal. His entrances verge on scene stealing, as does Laurel Van Horn Jaworsky as the unique prophetess living as a typical bag lady—Lady Boyle.
The two police officers, Albert J. Bostick Jr. as Officer James Bailey and Doobie Potter as Officer Randy Osteen are excellent. Bostick as the sympathetic black cop who knows and understands the young Franco Wicks is hysterical as a confirmed Trekkie as well. Officer Osteen has a crush on Arthur Przybyszewski, and her rough exterior with a heart of gold is part of what brings Mr. P. back to life. Potter has this part nailed.
The bad guys are Luther Flynn the mob boss, played by Paul H. Tomlin, and his goon, Kevin Magee is Chris Briscoe. These two break heads, but the broken heart is much more painful. Finally, Tarasov’s nephew, Kiril Ivakin is massively portrayed by Tommy Gragg.
Clark does an excellent job with this cast and the poignancy is enhanced under her direction without becoming over melodramatic. Technically the show is very well rounded and starts off this season in the new location nicely. That location is 800 West Main in downtown Oklahoma City. The address is not flamboyant, but easy to find. Just relax and trust the addresses, look for the poster and have a great evening in spite of a few tears. Tickets and information are available by calling 405.232.6500. “Superior Donuts” plays through September 24th at 8pm.