Wednesday, April 29, 2009


‘TREMONT’ probes into Cleveland’s past at Actors’ Summit

The city is on a search for its identity. In the past year at least three theatres have probed into areas of the municipality. Jewish Community Center’s Arts Program examined ‘CLEVELAND HEIGHTS.’ Dobama probed into the area’s historical immigration with ‘THE CLEVELAND PLAYS.’ And, on May 15 they open ‘THE CLEVELAND PLAYS: II’ about the effect of the present mortgage crisis on nine Clevelanders. Not to be outdone, Actors’ Summit premiered ‘TREMONT,’ a play by locals Robert Thomas Noll and Pamela Noll. It examines the results of white flight of first generation Europeans from the Tremont area, near the steel mill area on the shores of the Cuyahoga River.

The play is set in the Silver Bush Bar, a small neighborhood watering hole with a long time group of regulars, a clientele that has quickly abandoned the area and moved on to Parma. We meet Eva, a daughter who spent her life taking care of her now deceased parents, at the expense of her own happiness. She is working and living in the bar out of fear of living in the family home which has been broken into and ransacked. The bar is owned by Zolton, the son of the bar’s founder, who is an older man who professes love for the younger Eva. An elderly couple, the Popovich’s, are regular customers, but soon may be going southwest with the rest of the central Europeans seeking a safe place. There’s Tree who has lost his job but gains something else. The final character is Eva’s brother, Andre who has reappeared after a long absence with a hidden agenda.

Unfortunately, the play isn’t well written. The first act basically goes no place, filled with “old” people mockery. The second act at least has a somewhat meaningful conflict between the siblings. The conversations are often forced, the jokes aren’t that funny, and the overall effect is a somewhat pleasant, but quickly forgettable script.

The production has the air of community theatre performance, rather than a professional theater presentation. Whether this is the shallow script or the lack of acting depth is up for conjecture.

Sally Groth displays that she is properly tortured by Eva’s past. As the Popovichs, Jean and Glenn Colerider adequately walk the line between mental presence and early senility. Bob Keefe, with accent coming and going, never becomes quite believable as the bartender. Geoffrey Darling (Tree) is given the impossible task of trying to create a real person out of an unrealistically written character. He gets the laughs, but looks foolish in the process. Only Peter Voinovich comes off as real. Again, the script gives him a character that is much closer to believable, and he takes the role and develops it well.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘TREMONT’ is a lightweight script that gets an acceptable production at Actors’ Summit. It’s one of those shows that you may enjoy while watching, but quickly forget that you saw it.