Off-, Off-, and away!

Insuring your Dreams

By Edward W. Rising
Impact Theater Company
Directed by Sharon Kellogg
Non-union production (closed)
Review by Sarah Stevenson

Displaying a youthful idealism about theatre in general (and an unmasked enthusiasm for Off-Off-Broadway theater in particular), Edward Rising's Insuring Your Dreams traces the story of a struggling actor, Avery (Kevin Cummings,) and his new wife Sylvia (Krista Rushing). He learns that he must make compromises for her. But, more importantly, she learns that his passion for acting is not something that she can ever take away from him. Even if she gets him a job at her mother's insurance agency, he will return to the tiny black box of the Magic Box Theater (a theatre whose description sounds suspiciously like the tiny Impact theatre in which the play was performed). Trite? Perhaps. But also endearing. Avery and his theatre buddy Carl (Jarvis Smith) do go on and on spouting platitudes about the joys of theatre, the need to perform, etc...

Yes, they're a bit didactic. But on the other hand, Off-Off-Broadway actors do have a tendency to spout the same platitudes, so Avery's characterization cannot be quibbled with on the grounds of realism.

Krista Rushing was dazzling in the role of Sylvia. The other standout performer was Cara Vander Wiel, in the role of her mother, a no-nonsense insurance agent, who has surprisingly sensible advice to offer her daughter. How refreshing for a playwright to admit that mothers aren't to be blamed for everything.

Other engaging portrayals included Kevin Cummings as Sebastian, a guitarist stuck playing a Partridge Family revival tour, Laura Elizabeth Mayer as Sylvia's too-perfect older sister and Richard Clark as a put-upon office boy.

Some of the roles presented mere caricatures for the actors, however. John Stanbury played the role of Brad, Sylvia's ex-boyfriend who attempts to seduce her when Avery is at rehearsal. He was good-looking, but so superficial and sleazy that it seemed difficult to believe when the otherwise sensible Sylvia falls for his act. Other roles featured over-played stereotypes, such as the nail-filing, short-skirt-wearing receptionist Debbie Cherry (Jacqueline Donelli) and the over-wrought actress Heather Heartburn (Kerry Donelli). The latter, who performs the romantic lead in the play within the play, was presented as a melodramatic prima donna, preening about and throwing fits. This caricature of a soap-opera diva would certainly not last long Off-Off-Broadway, and seemed out of place in Rising's otherwise heartfelt attempt to characterize his theatrical world.

Structurally, the script was somewhat episodic in nature. Act One had 10 scenes, the intervals between them varying: ``2 weeks later, the next day, three months later, two years later, a week later...'' This led to a rather choppy feeling.

Fortunately, the company, under the solid direction of Sharon Kellogg, surmounted this deficiency with smooth set and costume changes and a good sense of flow.

The action of Act Two took place within the span of a few days, and the play became much more unified and cohesive in that act.

Flaws aside, Insuring Your Dreams is a heart-warming romance, highlighting (yet overcoming) the trials and tribulations of marrying an actor, and probably worthwhile viewing for anyone who even considers venturing into that role!

Box Score:
Writing 1
Directing 2
Acting 2
Set 1
Costumes 1
Lighting/Sound 1
Copyright 1997 Sarah Stevenson

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