Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cassie Powell gets rave in SF Chronicle

Cassie Powell got this review for her performance in Shove, Custom Made Theater's current production. Congratulations Cassie! We at Mother of Invention salute you!

Shove me tender

"The alleged subway murderer is pretty creepy in Ross Pasquale's unsettlingly disturbed performance, but Cassie Powell is even scarier as the relentlessly upbeat, obsessed jury forewoman who feels empowered after having convinced her peers to acquit him. An intriguingly conceived and brightly portrayed Genette ( Powell) is the pulsing heart of Mark Eisman's "Shove," a recent Los Angeles hit receiving its second staging in a Custom Made Theatre production that opened Friday at Custom's Off-Market Theaters home.

It's an intriguing play that could profit from a more tightly paced outing than it receives at the hands of director Christopher Jenkins. Set in subway stations and other locations in New York (a striking, compact set by Bruce Walters with dynamic lighting and sound effects by Ted Crimy), "Shove" explores the fatal intersection of four lonely lives with an edgy wit and quirky originality.

Genette is a runaway who was taken in by the kindly, maternal newspaper vendor (a slow, steady A.J. Davenport) for whom she works. Played by Powell on a continual, preternatural high, she's still walking on air from having saved the accused man's life, having had to turn around eight other jurors to do it. One of those jurors, Selden (a shy, immature loner turn by Todd Brotze), has fallen in love with her -- an obsession she encourages and frustrates with breezy lack of concern as she pursues her conviction that the jurors and defendant should bond in post-trial harmony.

Powell strikes the right note as the cheerfully obsessed, idealistic stalker who won't let Pasquale's anguished Lowell retreat into his shell. Eisman develops the relationships between Genette, Selden and Lowell with engaging skill, though in a few too many short, choppy scenes. Jenkins calls too much attention to the structural problems with slack pacing and by punctuating the scenes too repetitively with subway effects. An intriguing effort loses momentum as it moves toward what should be its relentless climax."

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