Curtain Call: CATCO's "Evie's Waltz"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Because "Evie's Waltz" playwright Carter W. Lewis has two of his characters discuss the distinction between metaphor and simile, a playgoer will be forgiven for reading a lot into that joyless dessert served at play's end. In our post-Columbine, post-Sept. 11 United States, apple-pie naivete has taken a beating.

Gloria (Mandy Fox) is the resentful mother and Clay (Ralph Scott) the nearly clueless father of teenage Danny, who has just been suspended for bringing a gun to school.

His parents, who you might expect to be contacting legal help or conferring with school officials, are engaged in a sitcom-worthy debate about the tribulations of raising children and casually preparing a backyard barbecue. Just another day in suburbia.

In waltzes Danny's girlfriend, Evie (Caitlin Morris), a walking, talking model of rebellious youth complete with dark eye shadow, piercings, camouflage and combat boots. Oh yes, and some blood on her neck.

Before we even have the chance to think Lewis is taking us into a vampire's lair, Evie explains that she and her mother, Sandy, have had a fight, and some crockery got broken.

CATCO warns of gunshots, so it's not giving away much to say that before the figurative curtain goes down, there may be more crockery and perhaps lawn ornaments shattered. Danny, you see, sits off in the unseen distance with another gun. And in the short time he's been a gun owner, he's become quite the sharpshooter.

Now, one might expect even the most trusting of parents to react with at least some emotion when they're used for target practice. But the barbecue must go on.

Recent Otterbein grad Morris pumps passion into the "crazy dangerous" Evie. Lewis has given her a character that veers from keen insight to silly conspiracy theories, from emotions that look real to detachment that strains credence. Under those contradictory pressures, Morris holds up well.

Fox is even better as the tough, conflicted Gloria, torn between love and anger. Scott, who can be good in comic roles, makes the willfully upbeat Clay too breezy to be believable.

If Lewis intended a satire, it's much further off target than Danny's aim. If he intended a thriller, he's telescoped pretty much every surprise, leaving us to be jarred only by loud noises.

And if he intended an earnest examination of school violence or modern parenthood, he's made a mild mockery of both.

When: Through March 7

Where: Riffe Center Studio Two Theatre, Downtown