Hot City’s “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday” Sports Great Cast But Lacks Dramatic Punch

Nicole Angeli as Lynn and Peggy Billo as her mother struggle for Lynn’s duffel bag in Hot City Theatre’s production of EM Lewis’ “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday.”

Hot City Theatre continues their season with a play that you root for but begs the question, where’s the dramatic crux? While the story of a woman who needs to leave her husband and her family to pursue a career in commercial fishing has a valid premise, it seems to overemphasize the focus and the reactions of those involved. So “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday” becomes a play without a lot of punch but one that is buoyed by a stellar cast.

This is a 70 minute one act but the point is made in the first ten minutes and then we seem to be beating a dead horse to get to the inevitable conclusion. Lynn doesn’t want to cut ties with her husband or her eccentric family, she just feels the need to get away for some time and do something completely foreign to her everyday life. We first encounter the reactions of her family on the morning she is about to leave on her quest. Her mother attempts to “hide” her duffel bag to postpone her departure, her father is befuddled by her actions and thinks taking her fishing at the local lake will satisfy this urge. Her brother, closeted only to the parents, and his lover also try to change her mind. When her husband finally arrives he is flush with bravado but, like the rest of the family, finally concedes to her wishes.

Nicole Angeli is solid as Lynn. She is battling these demons which are drawing her away- at least temporarily- from her family and her cat and can’t really articulate what the problem is. Peggy Billo is simply delightful as the scatter-brained mother who seems to have an obsession with keeping her family fed as eggs, toast and coffee constantly appear in front of everyone. And Joe Hanrahan gives a marvelously low-key performance as the father who seems to stay without a clue throughout the entire play.

Joe Hanrahan as the father tries to convince his daughter, Lynn, played by Nicole Angeli to go fishing in “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday” at Hot City Theatre.

Charlie Barron is perfect as the brother who even comes out to his parents in a last-ditch effort to keep his sister at the old homestead. Rusty Gunther is fine as his significant other while Eric White does a great job in transforming from bluster and rage to kindness and understanding. Bill Whitaker has directed with a keen eye to detail and the exquisite set design of Sean Savoie adds to the family drama.

Playwright EM Lewis has the kernel of a great idea but fails to bring the necessary drama to make this family crisis seem all that critical. You see  the emotions and you understand the dilemma but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make the whole story believable. Some re-writes seem to be in order. “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday” was the winner in Hot City’s new plays contest last year and it seems a worthy contender but could use some work before it becomes stage-ready.

“Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday” is worth the effort, however, for the great cast and to see a play in progress as it attempts to make it to the big time. Catch it through September 22nd at Hot City Theatre in the Kranzberg Arts Center. Call 314-289-4063 or get online at http://www.hotcitytheatre.org for tickets or more information.

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