By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
The 2014 Kansas City Fringe Festival is upon us!
Every year, the Kansas City festival highlights the best up-and-coming playwrights in the region. Among one of those playwrights is Vicki Vodrey.
Her latest production, A Hard Day’s Night, follows Kelly Kelley (Melissa Fennewald) as she deals with her family. Kelly’s parents, Kate (Jen Mays) and Ken (Bryan Moses) are celebrating their seemingly picture perfect 20th wedding anniversary, while her über popular younger (and sluttier) sister, Kirby (Mariah Thompson-who might be a dead ringer for Frozen’s Elsa), cannot stand her.
But, not as it seems in the Kelley household…a desperately lonely Kate buried the Kelley family’s 16th pet and kept its ashes (along with 15 others) around the household. She disguises her depression by popping pills and spreading cheery Disney products around the house. This has driven Ken to his breaking point and was embarrassed that her Disney obsession and animal remains were growing out-of-control.
Kelly can transport from her unfortunate situation through either the power of Broadway (particularly My Fair Lady) and the Beatles (a love that she acquired through her deceased grandfather). Unfortunately, her passion continues to pull away from her family.
The two performers that delivered the most impeccable scenes were Fennewald and Mays. Fennewald had superb chemistry with every cast member. She also delivered several performer punches through her dialogues with Jason (Chris Roady), a 30-year-old man who cannot escape higher education, and Kirby. Meanwhile, Mays perfectly captured the essence of the character including using the language that Disney World employees would use. An honorable mention goes to Shelley Wyche, who portrayed Kate’s overbearing and drunk friend Jenn.
Throughout a bulk of the production, Kelly used Beatles lyrics to communicate with her family. Jan Simon perfectly collaborated with Vodrey to insert the timeless lyrics of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison into this production. Fennewald (and at times Roady) perfectly brought them to life as they were often used as comic relief in Vodrey’s dramedy.
Final thoughts & grade: A Hard Day’s Night is a superb angst-ridden drama that excellently showcases a dysfunction family. It is not only a definite must see at this year’s Kansas City Fringe Festival, but also one of Vodrey’s best works. A+
For more information about this play and everything related to the Kansas City Fringe Festival, visit their website: http://www.kcfringe.org/