By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Christopher Carlos, as Paul, and Jaquai Wade, as Kanika, ignite promising sparks of chemistry between their characters that are never fully explored by the play. Both are good at giving their characters real depth. Leah Spillman plays her reporter, Ella, as a brittle little manipulator, but she serves mostly as a catalyst for the others' actions.
As the dead Mr. Morris, Barry Nash comes on in a flash of white light with a perceptibly playful twinkle in his eyes. From his solo speeches, insights into just why old man Morris hid all those African artifacts away in the basement are hinted at, if not fully revealed. His turns onstage are serenaded by an unseen choir of gospel-singing children.
Scenic designer Jake Maudlin wisely has kept the set simple, just an enormous circle of blond planks glowing with organic warmth under the stage lights. The dialogue may have been the inspiration for the stark design in which the characters see paintings that aren't there. Looking at great art, muses Paul, makes us feel refreshed, changes us a little. Through art, he says, we "see the world in the round."
At 7:30 p.m. June 13 is the staged reading of Japanese Death Poem, a comedy about the midlife crisis of a poetry professor. Playwright D.T. Arcieri will be present at the reading, which is being directed by Stephen Tobolowsky, an SMU alum who is one of the busiest and most recognizable character actors in films. (Groundhog Day, Memento and Adaptation are just a few of his credits.) He'll be at the performance, too.
At 7:30 p.m. June 20, KDT artistic associate Jonathan Taylor directs a staged reading of Wayne Peter Liebman's Transference, a drama exploring the work of Jung, Freud and their mutual disciple, Sabina Spielrein.
The final reading in the series is Wait! by Julie Jensen at 7:30 p.m. June 27.
All performances are at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, home of Kitchen Dog Theater, 3120 McKinney Ave. Call 214-953-1055 for ticket info or reservations.