The recent recession has been especially hard on people, forcing many to reinvent themselves in new careers. When circumstances are bleak, others seek escape and try to bury the storm of emotions they feel. Like many in the real world, the characters in Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit, now onstage at Horizon Theatre, are trying to find the answers to their problems, seeking them in the wrong places.
Under the skillful director of Lisa Adler, the cast brings the vivid characters to life, taking the audience on an intense journey. The almost flawless play will make you laugh, feel empathy and be surprised.
D’Amour has crafted interesting and detailed characters, and the casting for Horizon’s show takes the production to another level. Each one of the actors are captivating and make these characters so believable that it brings the audience into the show and has the rare success to make anyone forget he/she is in a theater watching a play.
Both Mary (Carolyn Cook) and Ben (Mark Cabus) have been having problems since Ben was laid off at the bank where he worked. A paralegal, Mary works hard to keep things normal while Ben tries to start his own business as a financial advisor. When a new couple (Kylie Brown as Sharon and Adam Fristoe as Kenny) moves next door, they seek to build a friendship with this strangely behaving couple.
Cook gives a powerful performance as Mary, who is barely holding herself together. Portraying a roller coaster of emotions, Cook gives the character a tightly controlled personality that has an intense storm going on inside her. She makes the complex role look easy.
Likewise, Brown’s Sharon fascinates with her enthusiasm to restart her life, and she is heartbreaking in her fall. Almost hippie like in her wide-eyed wonder, the portrayal consists of a woven fabric of sadness, hurt and hope that blend together into a complex performance. Known for her work in musical theater, Brown proves that she can be a formidable dramatic actress and hold her own opposite a stage veteran such as Cook.
Both Cabus and Fristoe are wonderful as the husbands, and they compliment the ladies well. Cabus’ Ben is a bit understated, but he has a charm and warmth that makes the character likeable and memorable even though he the text of the play doesn’t paint the rosiest picture for him.
Just as with Cabus, Fristoe takes Kenny and turns him into someone the audience sympathizes with. There’s a certain quality that he gives the character that draws attention and compassion despite a sense of darkness and sadness that lurks underneath the exterior.
Making only a brief appearance in the play, Thom Thon rounds out the cast. His character’s only purpose is to provide information, but he does well with the small role.
As a play Detroit doesn’t leave much room for a lukewarm reaction. Either you will love it or you won’t. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a high quality production; for it is. Highly entertaining and thought-provoking, the drama is well worth the experience.
Powerfully acted, Detroit plays through October 19, 2014 at Horizon Theatre. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is an hour and 45 minutes without an intermission.
– Kenny Norton