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Middle8 - Theatre Review

By Kathy Flynn

(LtoR): Matt Kaminsky, Brett Pearsons, Ken Weiler, Geoff Dunbar & Stefan Marks in middle8  
Photo by Baranduin Briggs

Doting family man Adam (Matt Kaminky)'s wife surprises him for his birthday with several weeks of alone time to work on his rock opera and reunite with his former bandmates in middle8, a musical dramedy from writer/director Stefan Marks. Band members, Chris (Stefan Marks), Lee (Ken Weiler), Killian (Geoff Dunbar), and Bobby (Brett Pearsons) return to Kansas City to explore their past...and future. If you are expecting a delightful comedy about middle-age dads reigniting their love of rock and roll, I was too, but this is not that play.

Brittany Joyner & Matt Kaminsky 
Photo by Baranduin Briggs

Middle 8 works best when it's a comedy. It's frequently hilarious and the musical numbers are just plain great, particularly the opening number with its three-part harmonies, and the boy band number that opens the second act, which is one of the funniest pieces of theatre I have seen this year. The male cast members are all members of The Four Postmen, and have obvious talent and musical chemistry.

Middle8 jumps back and forth in time as it tells a tale of love, loss and friendship. A non-linear structure can often add interest and drama, see Tarantino's films for a prime example, but in this case it was confusing and disjointed as the timeline jumps around extensively, including far into the future. The tonal and timeline changes make this feel more like a series of vignettes than a cohesive whole, and without visual clues such as set design to help ground the story, it meanders and ultimately falls apart long before the finish line.

Brett Pearsons & Jules Dameron 
Photo by Baranduin Briggs

While Adam is ostensibly the lead, it's acerbic divorcee Chris (playwright Marks) who has the best lines, and is the only character that seems fully fleshed out.

In addition to the band, there's Brittany Joyner as Cassidy, Adam's wife, a thinly written, thankless role. Jules Dameron fares much better as Delforia, the deaf free-spirit Bobby falls in love with. Dameron, a deaf actress, performs using ASL. The November 23rd show will be ASL interpreted which is a nice touch that I wish could be extended further throughout the run.

Middle8 plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm thru December 15th, with matinee performances on Saturday, December 8th and 15th at 3pm, at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd, (2nd floor), Hollywood, CA 90028. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Posted By Kathy Flynn on November 12, 2018 05:40 pm | Permalink