by Pa Rock
Odessa Benson got a group together tonight and we all descended on Tempe to see the Stray Cat Theatre's latest offering, a tragedy entitled An Impending Rupture of the Belly. This was the third Stray Cat production that I've seen, and all have been well worth the cost of admission and the drive across Phoenix.
A tragedy is a story that is destined to end badly. This was a simple tale of a young husband, soon to be a father, whose world is slowly falling in on him. Clay struggles to control his environment through grandiose plans, but in reality he can't even keep the neighbor's dog from taking a daily dump on his yard. The dog is crapping on the yard, and life is crapping on Clay. His spiral is constant, and it is downward, and it ends very badly indeed.
Michael Peck was the actor who was totally submerged into Clay. He was on stage throughout almost the entire production, displaying a range of intensity and emotion that was remarkable. Scott C. Jeffers played Clay's supervisor who prodded and goaded him into misbehavior, while Courtney Weir was Clay's pregnant wife who kept trying to tug him back into reality. Tom Leveen portrayed Clay's brother, Ray, who was somewhat drug-addled and irresponsible, and, regardless of intention, always seemed to complicate Clay's life. Larry F. Penunuri, Jr. was the neighbor with the defecating dog. Each member of the cast was a master of their craft, but it was Peck and Penunuri who gave this play its major friction.
Ron May directed An Impending Rupture of the Belly. When this season ends in April, the very talented Mr. May will have directed three of the four productions presented by The Stray Cat. The Phoenix New Times, the Valley's ass-kicking alternative newspaper and the bane of our infamous sheriff, has recognized Ron May as "The Best Thespian to Keep an Eye On."
The Stray Cat Theatre is alternative theatre at its best. Their productions are quirky, edgy, and thought-provoking. They choose superior scripts, form casts from the best talent the Valley, and confront their audiences with extreme reality. An evening at the Stray Cat is always an engrossing and disturbing experience.