Play Review: 'The ‘M’ Word' leaves you laughing, thinking.

November 13, 2008 

Talk to theater professionals about the quality of a play and they’ll tell you about production values, depth of characterization or range of performance.

The average ticket-buyer usually doesn’t have much interest in these topics. They just want to know if the play was any good. Was it funny? Did it make you think?

Talk to theatergoers about Columbia Basin College’s production of The ‘M’ Word and they’ll tell you it is a good play. It’s funny. It will make you think.

In fact, if you don’t leave the theater wanting to have a serious conversation about prejudice and tolerance, there’s probably something wrong with you.

This script by William Missouri Downs had us laughing out loud and pondering social issues aptly earning its subtitle, “A comedy with a serious message.” Thanks to Director Ginny Quinley and Assistant Director Nathan Morris, CBC succeeded in sharing this message with us.

The male lead in The ‘M’ Word is played by John Manley. Manley is an experienced, talented CBC actor who finds depth and range in the character of the confused Chris Osmond.

Stephanie Fanning plays Manley’s counterpart at the University of Wyoming where they both are college professors in the English department. Playing the liberal, tolerance-preaching, but over-critical Dorothy Cloud, Fanning was consistent and realistic.

Quinley and Morris put together a cast using nine of CBC’s finest. Every member of the cast from the energetic, fun-loving Annie played by Raquael Torres, to Manley, did an outstanding job.

Watch for Robert Chisholm who plays Dr. Mumford, dean of the English department. His realistic performance of the stodgy dean is high-caliber, adding to the overall quality of the show.

Look for Chance Rush as Buster. This talented thespian broke every heart in the theater with his varied performance of a boy who struggles with how homosexuality fits in his conservative upbringing and how one deals with broken dreams.

Set Designer Ronn Campbell crafted a set that convincingly represents the kind of environment we find our characters living in whether it is a car, office or restaurant.

Also, adding to the production’s modern feel, are the costumes designed by Verna Schwilke. She produced clothing that gives a sense of having been chosen by the characters themselves, rather than having been given to the actors to wear.

The ‘M’ Word plays for one more weekend, Nov. 14-15. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.

If you want to see a good play that makes you laugh and think, don’t miss closing weekend. — Katrina Carlson is an Tri-City actress who’s performed in many local community theater productions, as well as with the Washington East Opera and Richland Light Opera companies.

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