Love is pain

Rock the Line

By Kathleen Warnock
Directed by Steven McElroy
Emerging Artists Theatre
Theatre 5
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Byrne Harrison

Kathleen Warnock knows about love -- a love of the music that touches the soul and a love of the singer who brings that music to life. Sometimes that love can unite people. Sometimes it can be a refuge from a mundane life. Sometimes it can lead to obsession and madness. For the seven characters in Warnock’s Rock the Line, it is all this and more.

Rock the Line is a character-driven play about a group of friends united by their love of rock ’n’ roll legend Patti Roxx. Set in front of the club where she’ll be performing, the play shows their interactions, power plays, loves, and losses during the eight hours before Patti’s show.

Nancy (Rebecca Nyahay) is the alpha dog in the pack. With her girlfriend Lucy (Stephanie Deliani) in tow, she rules with an iron fist, keeping everyone literally in line while protecting them from the psychotic Candy (Karen Stanion). With them are Mickey (Roberto Cambeiro), the rock ’n’ roll bad boy who spends his days as a middle-management desk jockey; Kelly (Erin Hadley), a pretty, young rocker girl; Joanne (Jamie Heinlein), the pragmatic paramedic; and Leslie (Noelle Holly), the mousy romantic who has a crush on her.

While it’s Candy and her creepy obsession with Patti that led to the most action-packed parts in the play, the most compelling scenes dealt with the quiet moments between the characters. For those scenes to work, the chemistry has to be just right. In the case of Lucy and Nancy, the chemistry was perfect. Nyahay’s Nancy was an Amazon who seemed to walk all over Deliani’s simple and loyal Lucy. But the tenderness between these women showed through in so many moments, illuminating the balance in their relationship and making them seem to fit. Heinlein and Holly were best when they were at their most awkward -- Joanne unable to deal with Leslie’s advances and Leslie unable to penetrate Joanne’s defenses with mere words. Stanion as Candy managed to create a character that was over the top yet grounded in reality. Candy was creepy, but she was believable. Cambeiro had the same battle to fight; Mickey could very easily turn into a parody of a wannabe biker and Lothario, but instead Cambeiro emphasized his vulnerabilities and kept him a likeable, interesting character. Kelly is the character that seems most likely to be lost in the shuffle, but Hadley kept her interesting and, after getting busted having a brief fling with Mickey, had one of the funniest reactions in the show.

Director Steven McElroy kept the pacing brisk and made good use of Bill Pollock’s excellent set. Ellen Reilly’s costumes had just the right groupie look, especially Nancy and Candy’s outfits.

With its rock soundtrack and its strong characters, Rock the Line was a solid finale to the Triple Threat series.

(Also featuring Meghan Cary as the Voice of Patti Roxx, and the songs of Sexpod, Helen Wheels, One Step Beyond, McQueen, and The Botswanas)

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2006 Byrne Harrison