Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

In a WordUrbanite Theatre
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's reviews of Richard Stoltzman and Peter John Stoltzman and An Evening with Judy Collins

Trevor Bates (background),
Terrell Wheeler, and
Summer Dawn Wallace

Photo by Dylan Jon Wade Cox
Lauren Yee's In a Word, currently at Urbanite Theatre as the final production in the season, is a provocative play dealing with the aftermath of a tragic incident in the lives of middle-class parents.

We are two years out, after the disappearance of special needs Tristan, adopted by Fiona and Guy, a childless couple. The story jumps between the present and past, revealing more and more about the undercurrent of the lives of our characters. The reality of the past as shown to us is not always in sync with what a character is telling us. This makes the play complex; following up with a reading of the script may enhance one's understanding of it.

Co-Artistic Director Summer Dawn Wallace plays Fiona in a performance that seems a bit shrill at first, but gains its footing toward the ending, which in some ways calls to mind an operatic mad scene. Guy, played by Terrell Wheeler, is the more emotionally solid member of the marriage, but he is not sharing feelings with his wife, only with his best friend. Mr. Wheeler's performance is strong and grounded. Trevor Bates as Man plays multiple characters: Tristan, the principal of Tristan's school where Fiona also works; the husband's best friend; the detective on the missing child case; and a couple of others. He is more successful in some of the roles than in others, but it is a huge plus that he is natural as Tristan and emotionally giving as the husband's best friend.

Erin Kraft directs with a sure hand, keeping this complex theater piece mostly clearly in focus and getting fine performances from all three actors. Jeff Weber's scenic design is a big plus, a huge tree behind a rather ugly blue couch with some children's building toys scattered in front to give us the essence of Tristan's innocence. Chris Baldwin's lighting design is highly evocative while defining the moods of various scenes. Alison Gensmer's costumes get the job done effectively.

This entire season at Urbanite Theatre has been a very strong one. Incognito, Dike, Apples in Winter, and now In a Word have been standouts, but unlike previous seasons there were no really weak productions. Bravo to Brendan Ragan, Summer Dawn Wallace, and the entire staff for such a fine season. The company will announce its new season in a couple of weeks. I can't wait for this fine company to continue challenging me.

In a Word, through April 14, 2019, at Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St., Sarasota FL. Visit for more information.

Fiona: Summer Dawn Wallace*
Guy: Terrell Wheeler*
Man: Trevor Bates
*=Member of Actors' Equity Association