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Beyond Chron (website), September 21, 2005




Caryl Churchill who is famed for “Cloud Nine” wrote another play early in her career. In fact “Owners” is her first full-fledged play so say the producers at Shotgun Players.

The story centers around a woman who is a real estate agent. She tries to control everyone that comes into contact with her. No surprise here. What else would you expect from a R.E. agent? Anyway “Marion” buys and sells buildings and is ruthless in her dealings. She even sells a house right under a once “best friend”. Turns out that she is just getting revenge over the fact that the woman’s husband was once a lover of Marion’s.

The Real Estate hottie is married to an oaf of a butcher. Who, I would assume she married because he had money. Scenes move pretty fast in this play. The clever set (a turnstile) takes us from a butcher shop, to a living room, to an office, to a café and a hallway to mention just a few of the whirlwind stops to the conclusion of the murderous intentions of the oversexed “Marion”.

Though immensely engaging – I felt that the first act did not come together all that well. The second act is when things begin to happen in rapid succession. Marion sets up an incredible sequence of events with one of her employees who is forever trying to commit suicide but never seems to succeed. I suppose that he is Churchill’s idea of some comic relief in the play. However, what the revengeful Marion proposes gets out of hand. The plot goes beyond what one would expect. The end is certainly a downer. Some people might mistake Marion for a bitch – and they would be right.

THE PLAYERS: Trish Mulholland (Marion) is one of those rare actors who acts without letting you know that she is. She’s a Marion made in heaven. John Mercer (Alec) is Marion’s object of affection who she is determined to get back by any means, or? Mercer’s role is low-key, he just sort of sits back and let’s everyone tells him what to do. He’s a very strange man – and Mercer plays it just right. Lisa is Alec’s wife – who seems to me to be quite a bit neurotic. She talks too much and too loud. No wonder Alec seems P- - - - y whipped. Zebra Berkman is the dramatically talented actress. Howard Dillon is Marion’s hubby, the butcher. He plays an insensitive slob but for some reason you like him. At least I did. Dillon brought out just the right dimensions for this role. Ryan O’Donnel (Worsley) is the twisted, eccentric nut that’s always trying to kill himself. He gives needed comic relief to the play. O’Donnel was perfect for the part. He had just the right nuances. Also good was Marilyn Stanley as Alec’s mother and Megan Kane who plays several characters – all different types from a Customer to a Stripper.

DIRECTOR PATRICK DOOLEY HAS GOOD INSIGHT INTO THIS KIND OF PLAY. HE DEFTLY BALANCED THE DARKNESS WITH THE LIGHT. PLAYING AT THE SHOTGUN PLAYERS, THE ASHBY STAGE, BERKELEY. This is their new “Stage”, and it’s a wonderful space. Previously it was a modern church. In fact in the auditorium the pews are still in place. Great space for this amazing group of players. “Owners” will be on stage through Oct. 9.


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