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a Drama
by Crystal Skillman

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Artisan Resource Center
ID# 5077

SHOWING : May 11, 2017 - May 20, 2017



Three reality television writers find themselves just as "desperate" as the housewives they are shooting. Danno, a stressed-out editor, harbors secret guilt for deserting his sick sister. Rene is in the midst of a divorce and at a turning point in her career. The overly ambitious Colette finds herself in a world of trouble when she guns for Rene’s job and Danno’s respect. Amongst the "Ladies of Malibu" show that they produce, the trio finds that it is much easier to yell "cut!" on set, rather than in one’s own life.

Director Matthew Busch
Rene Melissa Rainey
Colette Bryn Striepe
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Millenial ADHD
by playgoer
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Crystal Skillman’s "Cut" starts out with a sequence of monologues from its three characters. The action that follows is liberally sprinkled with additional monologues, in some of which the actor plays both sides of a conversation. With a skilled actor (skilled in both drama and comedy), this is spellbinding. With a less-skilled actor, it’s confusing and/or lackluster.

In the case of Bryn Striepe, playing Colette, we have an actor with all the skills needed to create a bravura performance. Next to her, Melissa Rainey (Rene) and Brian Smith (Danno) seem non-dimensional, with adequate dramatic chops, but not a drop of comedy sense. Matthew Busch has directed them to speak with alarming speed and energy, which at the start of the show (and through much of it) gives a manic feel to the proceedings. When Ms. Rainey gives a quiet, heartfelt monologue in the middle of the 70-minute show, it consequently feels totally out of place.

On the technical side, the production also falls down. Will Brooks’ unlovely set design contains a V-shaped multi-computer station desk center, backed by a TV storyboard cluttered with Post-It notes and flanked by platforms on either side, a mixture of metal railings and metallic-painted wood, that function as a variety of locations. Bradley Rudy’s lighting design illuminates a variety of areas, not all of which mesh with the locations of actors in Mr. Busch’s blocking. The blocking contains one baffling sequence in which two of the three actors, who are apparently exiting the building after a firing, return in the same direction they entered in at the start of the scene.

Above the set hang a clock, only the second hand of which seems to work, and two video screens. Since the play concerns the editing of footage for a reality show, the screens are a suggestion that we’ll see some mock footage. No such luck. The screens display content (stock video clips) only during scene changes, accompanied by music from Matthew Busch’s sound design. When the script calls for the actors to view a video sequence, they gather at the lip of the stage and peer out toward the audience, flickering lights and a low-volume soundtrack doing a wonderful job of suggesting the viewing, but making the inclusion of video screens in the set design meaningless.

The storyline isn’t terribly realistic. We don’t get to know these characters in depth, and the need for a firing that sets up the end moments of the play seems to have been preordained before the characters finish work on their TV segment, which appears to be a success, if behind schedule. So why fire anybody? Everyone has unlikeable qualities, so it’s hard to care about the characters. Ms. Striepe gives a stupendous performance, but otherwise the play isn’t compelling. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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