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Tradin’ Paint

a Comedy
by Catherine Bush

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 4767

SHOWING : August 07, 2015 - August 15, 2015



Darla Frye is fraught with “deep-seated insecurities.” Her mother is dead, her boyfriend is delusional, and her job stocking auto parts is going nowhere fast. Then one night, on a deserted country road, Lucky Tibbs teaches Darla how to change a flat tire – and in doing so, change her life. Now Darla is on a quest to find her true “destiny”, a journey that takes her into the world of stock car racing and includes an unexpected friendship with a gay college professor, a head-on collision with a car battery, and a heavenly visit with the late Dale Earnhardt. It’s one helluva ride with a lot of “tradin’ paint” but Darla discovers that it’s the bump in the road that makes the trip worthwhile…

Director Julie Taliaferro
Pierce Garbarino Francisc Daniel Albu
Flagman Jeffrey Bigger
Skeeter Jett John Coombs
Lucky Tibbs Jessie Kuipers
Darla Frye Maria Legarda
Halley Smoot Marcus Morris
Tucker Forbush Daniel Phelps
Coty Webb Freddy Lynn Wilson
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Givin’ Compliments
by playgoer
Saturday, August 15, 2015
"Tradin’ Paint" tackles the world of NASCAR fans in a very accessible manner. The focus is on the journey of Darla Frye (Maria Legarda), a young woman with low self-esteem romantically involved with an unapologetic redneck (Freddy Lynn Wilson). With the help of a professor (Marcus Morris) and a pit chief (Jessie Kuipers), Darla comes into her own. The population of the cast is completed by a flagman (Jeffrey Bigger), and three racers (John Coombs, Daniel Phelps, and Francisc Daniel Albu), all of whom take on additional roles to flesh out the story.

Much of the play is presentational, with characters in the play directly addressing the audience in monologues. In less capable hands, this could become dull or stilted. Here, the actors pull it off ably. Ms. Legarda gives a wonderfully calibrated performance, taking us on her journey with gentle tugs on our heartstrings. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bigger invest their monologues with power and passion, entertaining consistently. Ms. Kuipers handles her role with straightforward good humor, making us believe her as a female mechanic. The only scenes that don’t really work are those involving Daniel Phelps, who gives an exceptionally amateurish spin to his dialogue and reactions.

Kelly David Carr’s set design consists of a set of bleachers stage right, the storefront of an auto shop stage left, and a low platform up center. It’s really more complicated than it needs to be, since unlocalized scenes occurring in the blank center section are as effective as scenes in the physical settings. Still, it’s a good-looking set.

Jonathan Liles’ lighting design is also more complicated than it needs to be. As characters move, lights illuminate different sections of the stage to follow their movement. It’s a nice complement to Julie Taliaferro’s fluid blocking, but seems a little too obvious in execution.

Joe Kovacs’ costume design is probably more complicated than it need be, but it’s very effective. Drivers’ uniforms are nicely done, and white costumes (with one red splash) add a wonderful visual flair to the start of the second act. Costumes for Ms. Legarda and Mr. Wilson mirror the journeys of their characters. All in all, this is a good-looking production. With M. Kathryn Allen’s sound design featuring roaring, racing engines, it’s also a good-sounding production.

Julie Taliaferro has directed a wonderfully accessible production of Catherine Bush’s sweetly imagined blue-collar world. It wears its Southern setting as a badge of honor and celebrates NASCAR fandom with clear-eyed enthusiasm. It’s not a play that requires audiences to know anything about NASCAR; it’s just the background of the story, and very charmingly explicated. I don’t give two hoots for NASCAR personally, but I was delighted by this play and this production and particularly by Ms. Legarda’s performance, which I consider one of the best I’ve seen this year. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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