Mediamockracy.Director Mitch Dickman was intrigued by the Democratic National Convention — the saturation coverage, the protests and the Democrats' ties to corporate interests. He and actors Karen Slack, William Hahn and GerRee Hinshaw moved among the convention participants, shooting video and asking questions. These elements, along with film from other sources, are woven into the plot of Mediamockracy, which revolves around two feuding characters: Piper Cummington, a viperous, Fox News-style news anchor, and Richard Guy, who hosts a comedy show in the vein of Stephen Colbert. But is the posturing, prancing, hypochondriacal and monomaniacal Guy really supposed to be Colbert? Colbert's entire persona is a spoof, and how do you mock mockery itself? Still, Slack and Hahn are brilliantly and juicily idiosyncratic in their roles, and their tactics illustrate the deficiencies of the mass media. Those deficiencies are further probed by Hinshaw, during entertaining, sometimes enlightening audience discussions that interrupt the action. Presented by Listen Productions through October 25, Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street, 720-290-1104, www.dncmediamockracy.com. Reviewed October 9.
The Trip to Bountiful.Carrie Watts, played by Kathleen M. Brady, is an elderly woman trapped in a Houston apartment with her son, Ludie, and his empty-headed, bullying shrew of a wife, Jessie Mae. Carrie longs to return to Bountiful, her home town on the Gulf, and eventually breaks free, clutching her already packed suitcase, her pension check tucked against her breast. At the bus station, she encounters another young wife, Thelma, who is sweet and empathetic. She responds with tears to Carrie's recitation of a psalm; she listens intently as Carrie tells the story of the one real love of her life, a man she was forbidden by her father to marry. Through the long first act, the production is static and uninvolving; it doesn't help that this intimate show is presented in the round, so that you lose immediacy and detail. But when Randy Moore and John Hutton enter the action as station master and sheriff, respectively, everything changes. These two actors are centered and comfortable in their skins, more than a match for Brady's conviction and talent. As Carrie, having finally arrived at her decrepit old home, talks about redbirds and mockingbirds, the play's quiet music asserts itself. Her Carrie is filled with a deep, quiet joy, radiant with it. Like the giant Antaeus, who needed to touch the ground periodically to maintain his strength, she has smelled the earth of her home, and now she is fortified not only for family strife, but for the ultimate darkness to come. Presented by the Denver Center Theatre Company through October 25, Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org. Reviewed October 9. — Juliet Wittman