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Superior Donuts

Cyrano’s Presents:

Superior Donuts

                                                             Runs Feb. 17-March 18

By Jamie Newsom

Written by 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner Tracy Letts, “Superior Donuts” is a deep-fried confection of a play. Even when it attempts to dig into certain territory, it’s still more like powdered sugar than the thick, dark maple syrup that more robust comedy-drama is made of.

The cast and crew of “Superior Donuts” (directed by Steven Hunt) take one-dimensional stock characters and predictable, blatantly recycled plotlines to present an engaging and sugary production.

The play opens in a rundown Uptown Chicago donut shop that has clearly seen better days. A couple of neighborhood police officers (Jill Sowerine, Kelly Lee Williams) – yes, cops in a donut shop – are investigating an apparent break-in. The place has been trashed, tables overturned, donuts strewn about the floor, and an obscenity painted on the wall.

Neighbor business-owner and Russian immigrant Max (played with mustachioed pomp by Thomas Jacobs) is trying to convince the cops that he isn’t guilty of the crime, when Arthur Przbyuszewski (Dick Reichman), the proprietor of the donut shop walks in, seemingly nonplussed.

“They smash up his store,” Max says to the cops, “and I am more angry than he is!”

Seemingly out of thin air, a young, cocky shop assistant-hopeful, Franco (Kelly Williams II), shows up, hell-bent on working at Superior Donuts.  Arthur – we know he’s an old hippie because he wears tie-dye t-shirts, smokes pot and talks about being a draft dodger in the play’s several action-halting, spotlighted soliloquies – and the younger, street-smart man become friends, and each of them eventually make sacrifices for each other and grow as individuals in the process.

Although the script itself isn’t much more than a saccharine sweet story with a Disney-like ending, the cast’s delivery of Lett’s great quips and jokes is punchy and clever.

The show is comprised of some delightful and well portrayed characters: Luther (Don Gomes), the gangster and his hilarious sidekick Kevin Magee (David Flavin), the alcoholic donut shop regular Lady (Jane Baird) and the Russian strong man Kiril (Mike Hazen).  Overall, the casting is really strong. Williams II’s Franco is charming and shares great chemistry opposite Reichman’s Arthur, however, a slight romance that springs up between Arthur and the “lady-cop” is difficult to buy, given the probably 40-year age gap between Sowerine and Reichman. Arthur isn’t Hugh Hefner, and this play isn’t “Harold and Maude.”

A big standout in the production is Brian Saylor’s evocative set, which looks exactly like a rundown donut shop might look.

A note for very sensitive audience members – this play has quite a bit of profanity, which only occasionally sounds natural coming out of the mouths of these too-wholesome characters.  Letts seems to delight in shocking his audience, although the effect is more distracting than anything.

Regardless, Cyrano’s production is certainly worth seeing. It makes for an entertaining night of theatre and lively post-show discussion about soliloquies. And donuts.

 

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