Strong Cast, Powerful Script Combine For Superb “Eat Your Heart Out” At R-S Theatrics

Ann Marie Mohr as Nance and Stephen Peirick as Tom in "Eat Your Heart Out" at R-S Theatrics. Photo: Michael Young

Ann Marie Mohr as Nance and Stephen Peirick as Tom in “Eat Your Heart Out” at R-S Theatrics. Photo: Michael Young

It’s too bad R-S Theatrics only ran this play for two week-ends. It deserves an open-end run so as many people can see it as possible. “Eat Your Heart Out” is so magic and so well constructed that you marvel at the three tales that unfold before you in short scenes that combine for a searing as well as touching finale that may leave you speechless.

First we meet Tom and Nance as they meet at an art museum for their first online-arranged date. Stephen Peirick is charming as the over-eager Tom. He even admits as things unfold that he seldom gets to the second date. Nance, in a wonderful performance by Ann Marie Mohr, is a bundle of nerves- obviously too much on her plate to attempt such a connection. Her ex was less than loving and now she is a Social Worker who arranges for adoptions for couples who cannot conceive. The awkwardness of both individuals adds up to a strange, likable pair.

Katie Donnelly as Evie and Casey Boland as Colin in R-S Theatrics' "Eat Your Heart Out." Photo: Michael Young

Katie Donnelly as Evie and Casey Boland as Colin in R-S Theatrics’ “Eat Your Heart Out.” Photo: Michael Young

Then we meet Evie, Nance’s daughter who is overweight like her father and struggles to fit in socially. In an angst-ridden and beautifully crafted performance, Katie Donnelly gives one of the best performances I’ve seen her in. She has been outstanding in the past, but this role gives her the chance to really unleash the acting chops and she does so in full force. Her only friend is Colin, another strong outing by Casey Boland. His long distance relationship with his girlfriend in New Hampshire prevents him from seeing Evie as anything but a friend and it is just killing her. She has so much love to give and, even when she brings those emotions out, he doesn’t respond the way she feels he should.

Nance listens as Michelle Hand as Alice and Eric Dean White as Gabe try to impress her in "Eat Your Heart Out" at R-S Theatrics. Photo: Michael Young

Nance listens as Michelle Hand as Alice and Eric Dean White as Gabe try to impress her in “Eat Your Heart Out” at R-S Theatrics. Photo: Michael Young

Finally we meet Alice and Gabe. Michelle Hand brings a full range of emotions to the nervous wife who wants to bring a child into their relationship. She is simply spectacular as she goes from nervous to outraged to venomous and contrite all in the same scene. It’s overwhelming. Eric Dean White rounds out the cast as Gabe who convinces Nance that he was raised in a loving home until Alice, in her private session with Nance, spills the beans and seals their fate and possibly loses their chance to adopt.

Going from one quick scene to another, the three couples begin to weave through each others’ stories until tragedy strikes and brings them all full circle into a very cathartic final scene that cements our hopes for humanity and civility in a chaotic and often cruel world.

Katie Donnelly and Ann Marie Mohr have one of their few mother-daughter bonding moments in R-S Theatrics' "Eat Your Heart Out." Photo: Michael Young

Katie Donnelly and Ann Marie Mohr have one of their few mother-daughter bonding moments in R-S Theatrics’ “Eat Your Heart Out.” Photo: Michael Young

Director William Whitaker has blended the scenes and stories beautifully and piqued our interest all along the way. His subtle touch makes even the more violent scenes ring with truth and vibrancy. Elizabeth Van Pelt has tied it altogether in a long, slightly changing set design that goes through the center of the main floor of The Chapel. The Nathan Schroeder lights key those various areas and the quick work of changing a bench or a prop keeps the rhythm flowing. Ruth Schmalenberger has costumed the show appropriately denoting the personality of each character strikingly.

Even with the strange title of Courtney Baron’s piece- perhaps noting the play on the heart strings of all of the characters involved- “Eat Your Heart Out” is a striking piece of theatre that will haunt you for days afterward. I did not get to attend until the second and final week-end with the expanse of theatre going on this first and second week-end of December, but I can only hope that you made this a top priority. It was well attended, I understand and for that I’m grateful. This is one that really deserves to be seen by anyone with even a mild interest in theatre in our town. Even go so far as to call it a quiet little masterpiece.

 

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