Sunday, March 27, 2016

"On Clover Road" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

In the first place, San Francisco Playhouse's new venue for their Sandbox Series, the Rueff Theatre, upstairs in the Strand on Market Street, is a spectacular success. It has a Times Square feel, helped along we suppose by the funkiness of the street below. Steven Dietz's "On Clover Road," directed by Susi Damilano in its World Premiere, fills the space and brings the audience practically inside Dietz's dismal and deceptive motel room.

The story is wild and the ensemble of actors is very good, but we have to single out Sally Dana for her role as Kate. We would suggest you see this show as soon as you can because this is a mentally draining role as well as a physically demanding one. We're not sure how she will do two shows on Saturday.

Kate's daughter Jessica disappeared when she was thirteen and was found years later to have entered a cult commune ruled by The Prophet (Adam Elder), a charismatic father figure. Kate has been contacted by Stine (Michael Storm) and asked for money in return for Stine attempting to win Jessica back to her mother.

Well, yeah, sort of. The tale just gets weirder and weirder. Who is Jessica? Is it...her?

Or, is it...her?

Nancy Kimball (two photos above) and Rachel Goldberg (above)  play two young girls whose roles in the cult, and in the motel room, become murkier and murkier. And when Stine disappears and locks Kate behind, our uneasiness steps up to another level

Storm is terrifically menacing as Stine, but we do have one problem: why the bathroom at the end? Why did they not just do what they were going to do out in the open?

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division is currently hiding under its seat. From this safe haven they award "On Clover Road" Four Stars. This is a high award for a first time show, but the book needs one star, the actors need one, direction needs one and Sally Dana has to have one for herself. Add 'em up. Four Stars for a strong performance.

"On Clover Road"
The Rueff Theatre
Top Floor, The Strand Theatre
1127 Market Street, San Francisco
Through April 16

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