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Honor the System

a Comedy/Thriller
by Daniel Carter Brown

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Artisan Resource Center
ID# 4994

SHOWING : November 11, 2016 - November 20, 2016



"Honor The System" is a comedy about five travelers who find themselves at a strange hotel which runs without any staff--the whole place runs on the honor system! They soon find that those who don’t honor the system are punished. The travelers then have a choice: simply behave, or discover the hotel’s secret.

Director Carolyn Choe
Ryan Matthew Busch
Trish Ali Olhausen
Zoe Melissa Rainey
Marigold/Barb Karen Ruetz
Wayne/Tuck Jeffrey Sneed
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by playgoer
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
"Honor the System" centers around the concept of a hotel that runs on the honor system, with punishments mysteriously applied to those who abuse the trust of the establishment. It starts out as a comedy, but the comedy doesn’t really work. We have an earth mother hippie (Karen Ruetz), a reclusive writer (Jeffrey Sneed), and a grammar stickler on the lam (Melissa Rainey) to start with. They’re all rather unpleasant. Then they are joined by the foul-mouthed Ryan (Matthew Busch) and his sister (Ali Olhausen), and the unpleasantness quotient skyrockets. Ryan’s outbursts of profanity are the only comedy that really lands, and they’re pretty raunchy.

At the end of the first act, the show transitions to being a thriller, and that part of the show works quite well. We have learned the secret of the hotel, as have some of the residents, and it’s only a matter of time before justice is dispensed to those who have behaved unethically. There’s double casting, explained in the script by having the characters described as looking like one another, and there’s lots of action. Carolyn Choe has directed the show to keep it moving along.

The set, designed by Will Brooks, places the check-in desk up center, the door to the deluxe suite down right, and hallways to other portions of the hotel stage left and stage right center. The lobby of the hotel is furnished with a loveseat and a few chairs. It’s not terribly attractive, but it works quite well in terms of the staging. Graffiti effects added during the intermission are ably implemented. Lighting (designed by Nina Gooch), sound (designed by Carolyn Choe), and costumes (designed by Julianne Whitehead) do their jobs with equal effectiveness.

Performances are fine, but only Matthew Busch seems to truly inhabit his character. Ali Olhausen is good as his sister, but appears far younger than the thirtyish person she is described as being. Jeffrey Sneed does well as writer Wayne, but is less convincing as trucker Tuck. Karen Ruetz scores as policewoman Barb, but can’t make the dialogue of her hippie sister Marigold truly come to life. Melissa Rainey also has problems making the speech patterns of Zoe seem natural. She displays the menace of her character, but is not believable as a well-educated former teacher.

Daniel Carter Brown has devised a script that works well within the confines of the Out of Box space. It takes a long time gathering steam, but the payoff, well, pays off. Director Carolyn Choe has created a production that doesn’t stun with its inventiveness, but that entertains. It’s a good production, but not great. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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