Scratching – An Atlanta Theater Fans Review

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Julissa Sabino and Barrett Doyle in Scratching. Photo by Drake Simons

Julissa Sabino and Barrett Doyle in Scratching. Photo by Drake Simons

For some postmodern philosophers, life is composed of fragments filled with broken dreams, lost hope and isolated loneliness, and the characters in Britton Buttrill’s world premiere play Scratching echo similar thoughts. Their lives, held together with drugs and shallow relationships, paint a picture of a stark reality that we often try to sweep under the rug.

Playing at Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre, the edgy drama provides plenty of thought-provoking moments and a little bit of suspense. It fits in perfectly with the canon that the theatre has put together over the years of contemporary plays.

The cast include familiar and new faces to the Atlanta scene. The ensemble features: Barrett Doyle, Stephanie Friedman, Julissa Sabino and Bennett Walton. Among the group, Sabino stands out. Her broken innocence and faint glimmer of a hope for a better life create a character that draws your interest. She takes the role and makes it vulnerable and strong at the same time.

Buttrill’s script has an enthralling story with interesting characters; however, the dialogue tends to get bogged down in philosophical thoughts. While it is fitting that a couple of the characters spout out such diatribes, it does slow the action of the play down. Regardless, Scratching is a play to watch develop. It will be interesting to see how it evolves after this world premiere.

The themes of the play are reminiscent of the film The Basketball Diaries, which depicts a life torn apart by heroin. While the MDMA use in this play doesn’t directly cause anyone’s downfall, it does represent the characters’ need to escape.

Some of the most interesting aspects of the play result from the off stage talent, many of which are showcasing their work professionally for the first time. Costume designer Cameron Dix has created attires that fit the characters well and give insight into each one’s personality. In addition, Chelsea Steverson’s set perfectly captures the desolation of the story, but it is a bit confusing that it appears to be a warehouse loft when most scenes take place in a trailer or motel room. The lighting design by Kevin Frazier compliments the tone of the play nicely.

In Nichole Palmietto’s admirable professional directorial debut, Scratching provides an intense drama that will leave a strong impression. It plays at Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre through September 15, 2013. For tickets and more information, please see our now onstage listing or visit the theater’s website. The show runs approximately two hours including one intermission and the theatre does have a disclaimer that the production is for mature audiences.

– Kenny Norton