The Jewel Box Theatre is presenting “The Broken Statue” an original work by author Bob Perry. The play fictionalizes the life and lifestyle of Lydie and E.W. Marland. The title of the play comes from the statue of Lydie recovered after being buried in the ground for a number of decades. Perry has researched his subjects and presents them realistically; the fiction comes from the addition of several characters as a vehicle to tell the story, specifically the narrator: Charlie McDonagh.
Perry’s play has the bones of a very good story. The first act encompasses the early years of young Lydie and her brother George as they come to Ponca City, Oklahoma and are adopted by oil baron E. W. Marland and his first wife, the children’s Aunt Virginia. The second act carries on as they have become adults. “The Broken Statue” reveals much about the life of Lydie Marland, however the title promises far more than it delivers. The play is taken from Perry’s novel with the same title. The script does not seem to hang together in this form.
In terms of production, Chuck Tweed, Director does a very nice job of staging. Using a minimalist set and beautiful costumes, the play has great possibilities. While the script is somewhat clumsy and unpolished, good actors can bring it to life. In the first act, the children in the cast do exactly that. Greyson Giese and Kayin Williamson do a particularly fine job as the young Charlie McDonagh and his friend Walt Johnson. Also as the young George and Lydie Roberts, Joe Grotta and Chelsea Yeager nail their parts. Rounding out the young cast is Nathan Teel as Cricket. These talented kids definitely upstage their adult counterparts.
The adult cast seems perfect physically for their roles. However the major characters seem to have trouble expressing emotions and motivations particularly in the second act. While the script is awkward, it is simple rather than complicated. Paul Smith as Charlie (the fictional narrator) is on stage a great deal. The leading actor in the show is Jeff Perkins as E. W. Marland. Both actors appear ideal for their roles but lack confidence for a smooth performance. They spend more time struggling for their words than using their words to reveal their struggles.
Katie Lloyd is a beautiful Lydie; however she also has a few difficulties with language, possibly because she is not getting her cues. Her accent is a bit inconsistent but she has a very nice feel for the role. Charlie as a young adult is quite well done by Josh McGowen showcasing Lloyd’s performance as well as his own. Michel Cross as the first Mrs. Marland is lovely and Tiffany Tuggle as Elizabeth does a fine job, but the most refreshing adult scenes come with the two endearing harridans: Mrs. Dingle and Mrs. Berry. Donna Mackie and Vicki Wilcox have not only learned their parts, they have developed delightful and amusing characters. Each time they enter the audience can relax and enjoy their evil gossip.
E. W. Marland’s nemesis is Daniel Craigin. Craigin is quite well done by Larry Harris. Dalton Thomas as the young adult Walt is also performed intelligently. Together Harris and Thomas along with McGowen, and Grotta (young George) as well as Jared Blount (adult George) provide much of the sense and consistency needed in this play. Jim Gabe as the gardener, Hotel Manager and Jody along with Roger Oxford as Joe Miller have cameo appearances. They don’t seem to have memorized their lines either.
“The Broken Statue” is likely to be viewable after a few more weeks. As Perkins has so many possibilities in this role, improvement is certain. Since this Oklahoma history is fascinating, the play can be well worth seeing. Fortunately the show runs through October 30th at the First Christian Church.
Jewel Box Theatre is located at 3700 N. Walker in Oklahoma City. The Jewel Box telephone number is 405-521-1786 and the website is accessed at Jewelboxtheatre.org. Show times are 8:00pm Thursday/Saturday with Sunday matinees at 2:30pm through October 30, 2011.