Tracy Letts returns to the trope of onstage violence with Superior Donuts, set in a seedy Uptown Chicago neighborhood. And the impressive fight, choreographed by Robb Hunter, is well executed by Richard Cotovsky (as donut shop proprietor Arthur) and Chris Genebach (as small-time criminal Luther). But the acting laurels go to Johnny Ramey in an endearing performance as Franco Wicks, an African-American youth with issues; in the course of working through them, he helps Arthur to master some of his own.
Arthur, a Vietnam-era draft evader who still hasn’t given up his beard and pony tail, has made it his life’s work to keep other people at arm’s length. So perhaps it’s a character choice, or perhaps just the length of the show’s run (it opened 10 November), that Cotovsky in his monologues of remembrance doesn’t take his time and make a connection to us in the audience.
Gregor Paslawsky does well with the character of Max, a neighboring merchant with designs on Arthur’s real estate, shifting from menace to exasperated comedy with ease.
The ground plan of Russell Metheny’s set excellently solves the familiar problem of actors being trapped behind a store counter by turning around the U of display case and seating so that its open section is downstage, placing the street entrance door directly upstage. The scene transition that calls for Arthur’s shop window to be boarded up is also smoothly handled.
- Superior Donuts, by Tracy Letts, directed by Serge Seiden, The Studio Theatre’s Metheny Theatre, Washington