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The Necessity of Hank 

Wednesday, Dec 5 2007

If you have yet to experience RIPE Theatre, you are missing one of the most theatrically adventurous companies in the area. The substance of this particular play, about the strained relationship between a mother and a son, unfortunately often gets lost in all of its flights of theatrical fancy. A bit with a cat, for instance, starts out with much promise, yet by the end fails to resonate among all the other detritus onstage, including leaves from a strong storm and chalk outlines of thoughts and feelings. What's more, only Noah Kelly, as the fun-loving dentist dad, has the quicksilver quality needed to keep the deceptively mundane lines fresh and intriguing. (It probably doesn't hurt that he and his own mother, Val, penned the story.) Yet there is something exciting about the Kellys' constant choice to eschew plodding, straightforward storytelling for an imaginative oddball journey, one just as likely to ponder profound themes of loss and self-discovery as it is to send up those themes with quirky humor. Even if this particular piece is more style than substance, that style is so inventive and charming that you hope this seven-year-old company has many more tricks up its sleeve.

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Molly Rhodes


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