"a slow-burning, perceptive chamber drama about sacrifice and betrayal, honesty and self-delusion... In Caudle's worldview, self-interest trumps everything else, a conclusion that other playwrights, like Neil LaBute, have reached with caustic cynicism or world-weary hopelessness. But Caudle seems to be an inherent optimist, looking for even the slightest glimmer of hope or modicum of change in this tragic study of human foibles." John Thomason, Miami New Times
'Resonant.' 'A study in hard-wired familial dysfunction.' Christine Dolen, Miami Herald
"immensely engaging...Caudle examines the boundaries of love and acceptance, and the sometimes manipulative competition that filial love can create with the love of spouses….Caudle creates painfully real circumstances, as well as characters toward whom the audience feels genuine empathy. He also deftly captures the difficulty of placing limitations on love, when to tell the kind lie rather than the cruel truth, and the agony of wondering “What did I do wrong?”"
Theodore P. Mahne, Times-Picayune
Miami, Florida. The present. A Lesbian couple's longtime relationship is threatened when their estranged adult son resurfaces, having been arrested for Aggravated Assault. Their struggle mirrors that of any couple, gay or straight, faced with the prospect that their child may never be "okay."
Characters: (1M, 4F)
SHELLY, mid-30s (but passes for early 20s). Paul's homeless girlfriend.
NAT, 60s. Beth and Marian's wealthy Lesbian landlady and longtime friend.
MARIAN, 50s. Paul's mother.
BETH, 50. Marian's longtime Lesbian lover, step parent to Paul.
PAUL, 30. A troubled young man, in jail for an assault.
MIAMI NEW TIMES, Feb. 10, 2014. John Thomason
Visiting Hours at New Theatre: Gypsy Theatre Relaunches With Perceptive DramaIf it seems like New Theatre's latest production has an extra spring in its step — if the set design, lighting, and actors appear unusually dynamic — it might be because the peripatetic company has finally found a decent home.More than decent, in fact. Since 2012, with the razing of its then-decade-old theater in Coral Gables, the company has had trouble finding a proper performance venue. For about a season and a half, it produced plays at Miami's Roxy Performing Arts Center, a former movie theater turned children's performing arts school, located in an unimpressive strip mall. After a while, neither of the Roxy's theaters seemed to work, so directors ended up carving new audience spaces on the stages themselves, behind the curtains. Last October, county officials cut New Theatre's Roxy experiment mercifully short after citing the venue for water and sewage problems. The company promptly packed up and presented its next scheduled production at Artistic Vibes, a warehouse space near the Falls.And now, after the collapse of four permanent homes in its 27-year history, New Theatre has forged a deal with the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, a 2-year-old, strikingly modern arts colossus with Frank Gehry-style architecture. (The M Ensemble, another Miami-based gypsy theater of late, has also found a new home at SMDCAC.) Housed in one of the center's two boutique spaces — the 129-seat Lab Theater — New Theatre now enjoys the benefits of a large cultural institution's marketing largesse and, hopefully, its subscriber base.One thing is certain: It picked a quality piece of a drama to relaunch its brand.Visiting Hours, a Florida premiere by Miami native David Caudle, is set affectionately in his childhood metropolis; keep an ear out for references to Coral Castle, CocoWalk, and Joe's Stone Crab.It's here, in an autumnally colored guesthouse of a wealthy friend/relative, where Marian (Barbara Sloan) and her longtime partner, Beth (Madelin Marchant), return from a Saturday-morning doughnut run to find a stranger in their home. Her name is Shelly (Maria Corina Ramirez), a manipulative little runaway who may or may not have broken into the residence. But none of that matters: She has news about Marian's son Paul (Alex Alvarez), whom Marian hasn't seen in two years. He's in prison, which doesn't surprise Beth, but Shelly swears by his innocence, claiming an aggravated assault charge was blown out of proportion. And she could really use $2,000 for his bond, or something. Actually, make it $3,000. Did she mention she's going to have Paul's baby?So begins a slow-burning, perceptive chamber drama about sacrifice and betrayal, honesty and self-delusion. In one way or another, Marian is using Beth, Shelly is using Paul, Paul is using Shelly and Beth and Marian, and Marian and Beth are using Nat (Kitt Marsh), the wealthy spinster from whom they're renting their supposedly rundown bungalow (Alyiece Moretto's set design looks plenty livable). In Caudle's worldview, self-interest trumps everything else, a conclusion that other playwrights, like Neil LaBute, have reached with caustic cynicism or world-weary hopelessness. But Caudle seems to be an inherent optimist, looking for even the slightest glimmer of hope or modicum of change in this tragic study of human foibles.Under the direction of arguably South Florida's most skilled theater freelancer, Margaret Ledford, each actor plunges deep into his or her emotional well. The criminally underused Alvarez, who has proven he can be quirky and funny (GableStage's The Motherfucker With the Hat) as well as monstrous and harrowing (Promethean Theatre Company's The Unseen), gravitates mostly to the latter as Paul. His sheer size makes him an intimidating force when surrounded by slender women, and his Paul is a self-destructive loose cannon, a psychopath careening toward an early grave. It's a performance built equally on small gestures — sniffing like a cokehead after convincing his mother he's clean — and uncontrollable, animalistic maneuverings, like a bipolar Stanley Kowalski. He switches from rage to regret in a heartbeat while suggesting that both could be the work of an emotionless manipulator. When he's left to really explore his character, which is mostly in Act II, he seems positively possessed by him.Ramirez, who imbued her character in New Theatre's excellent production ofHappy with the confidence of a master conductor, brings a little of that to Shelly, a young woman whose convincing stories and schizoid fits of attention-grabbing have an ulterior motive. She plays sexy and straggly at the same time, a devious dynamo whose presence in a room can warp its energy faster than a passing poltergeist.Sloan and Marchant make for a believable couple, each one's yin playing off the other's yang. The former is a classic motherly archetype, forever hoping there's an angel somewhere hidden in the demon seed she brought into the world. She effectively turns on the water works a couple of times, but it's the small touches that resonate the most, like the few times she reaches for her son only to have her affections ignored or rebuffed. Marchant's Beth anchors the show as its most grounded character, but she's also its least expressive performance, and it teeters at times toward emotional disconnection; it doesn't help that she rushes through a number of her lines. She stuns, finally, in an arresting confrontation and its aftermath in the second act. Marsh may be onstage the least, but she's terrific every moment she's on. She brings out Caudle's comic relief with a bayou rasp and a gin and tonic in hand, no matter how early in the morning it happens to be. She plays Nat with a drunkard's loudness and lack of self-awareness, like a bedraggled matriarch from, once again, the Tennessee Williams canon.At this past Sunday's matinee, the only element lacking in this handsome production of an intelligent play was the number of butts in the seats. It's always difficult to relocate, and New Theatre has surely lost patrons with each location change. But the company has proven time and again that the show will always go on, even if it has to find an empty parking lot or a director's backyard. For its sake as well as for the strength of this theater community, let's hope New Theatre's U-Haul days are finally over.
MIAMI HERALD: Christine Dolen, Feb. 9, 2014
New Theatre explores a family’s dysfunction in David Caudle’s ‘Visiting Hours’
Gloriously happy families aren’t as common as movies and television shows would have it. Most folks live in a shades-of-gray real world, one that comes with problems and complicated relationships. That’s the terrain David Caudle explores in his play Visiting Hours.After a world premiere two years ago in New Orleans, Caudle’s set-in-Coral Gables drama is getting its South Florida debut. New Theatre, now presenting its work in the Lab Theater at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, earlier premiered the Miami-raised Caudle’s In Development, Likeness and The Sunken Living Room. Visiting Hours launches New Theatre’s stay in Cutler Bay, the company’s fifth home base since its founding in 1986.Resonant yet deliberately slow to reveal its secrets, Visiting Hours centers on a devoted lesbian couple, Marian (Barbara Sloan) and Beth (Madelin Marchant). The two are living in a small garage apartment owned by Nat (Kitt Marsh), their friend and benefactor, an older lesbian with a fondness for gin and tonics. The reason for the couple’s diminished financial circumstances soon resurfaces: Paul (Alex Alvarez), Marian’s 30-year-old son, has been arrested on charges of aggravated assault and needs bail money.Parents with a troubled “kid” will relate to Caudle’s drama, painfully so. Paul and his newest acquisition, a troubled young homeless woman named Shelly (Maria Corina Ramirez), change their stories more often than they change their backpack-rumpled clothing. The fissures in Marian and Beth’s relationship grow ever deeper as the younger couple keeps piling on the lies and Marian the enabler keeps making excuses for her son.Directed by Margaret M. Ledford, Visiting Hoursplays out in a cramped apartment that is as ugly as Marian and Beth’s ongoing exploitation by Paul (Alyiece Moretto designed the odd set). The acting is strong, though on opening night some lines were blown or forgotten. Too, one more clarifying rewrite wouldn’t hurt Visiting Hours. The facts and history contained in the plot are sometimes more confusing than revelatory.Sloan and Marchant are convincing and compelling as the couple who are deeply bonded despite their differences (Marian, for instance, finds solace in faith, but Beth is a skeptic), and they make you believe that the final test of the relationship could play out either way. Marsh is lascivious as Nat comes on to the much younger Shelly, amusing and sad as she grows ever more inebriated, poignant in her expression of loneliness.But it’s Alvarez and Ramirez as the sneaky, raging young couple who prove both fascinating and frightening. Both of the younger actors walk the sociopath’s tightrope, radiating reason (Alvarez) and kookiness (Ramirez) until their masks fall away, and it becomes clear that no amount of a parent’s redemptive love is going to make any difference in their exploitative cruelty. And in its waning moments,Visiting Hours becomes a study in hard-wired familial dysfunction.
Jessie Terrebonne, center, in a scene from 'Visiting Hours.' Co-stars include Tari Hohn, left, Becki Davis, and Nick Thompson, seated.
Weissberger Award Nominee
Finalist, Premier Stages New Plays Festival
Developed in the Downstage Miami workshop.
FLORIDA PREMIERE AT NEW THEATRE
Visiting Hours plays through March 2 from New Theatre, performing at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 Street in Cutler Bay. Performances 8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Running time 2 hours including intermission. Tickets $26-$30. Call (786) 573-5300 or visit smdcac.org
RISING SHINERS WORLD PREMIERE PRODUCTION
THRU APRIL 21, 2012
Mid-City Theatre, New Orleans
ABOVE: As Nat, Becky Allen, right, has designs on Jessie Terrebonne's Shelly in an early scene from 'Visting Hours.'
TIMES-PICAYUNE , Theodore P. Mahne, 4/6//12
Powerful 'Visiting Hours' questions the limits of a parent's love
A recurring theme in drama, dating as far back as biblical times, is the consequences ensuing generations face for the sins of their fathers. In his new play, “Visiting Hours,” playwright David Caudle turns the generational tables to ask whether parents can ever escape the guilt for the sins of their children.In this immensely engaging drama, receiving its premiere production by Rising Shiners, Caudle examines the boundaries of love and acceptance, and the sometimes manipulative competition that filial love can create with the love of spouses.The play opens with a stranger breaking into the home of a lesbian couple, purportedly to bring them news of a long estranged son, Paul. He has been arrested for an assault charge, and Shelly, his girlfriend, has come seeking bail money from his mother, Marian, and her partner, Beth.Duplicitous layers are hinted at from the outset when Shelly appears willing to prostitute herself out to Nat, the couple’s older landlady.Paul’s arrest is apparently one in a string of bad turns the young man has taken in life, resulting in Marian and Beth bankrupting themselves in their efforts to save him. Without revealing key plot points, suffice it to say that Caudle creates painfully real circumstances, as well as characters toward whom the audience feels genuine empathy.He also deftly captures the difficulty of placing limitations on love, when to tell the kind lie rather than the cruel truth, and the agony of wondering “What did I do wrong?”Caudle’s work is in remarkably good hands with a superb cast under the careful direction of Ann Mahoney Kadar. She is especially attentive to the tightness of the script – there’s not an extraneous line in it. The result is a taut drama in which some unexpected turns reflect life itself.Of particular note is the natural tone that Caudle establishes with his story. By centering the play on a lesbian couple, he could have fallen into the trap of dramatists pushing a specific cause, resulting in the work becoming merely polemic and limiting its audience. But Caudle’s focus is on creating a good story, first and foremost. Marian and Beth’s relationship is not depicted to score politically correct points; parents of either gender or sexual orientation can easily identify with their predicament.Each character is needy, co-dependent or manipulative to some degree, sometimes driven by love, other times by malice.Becki Davis and Tari Hohn give the play its intensely emotional and dramatic center. When her son has disappeared for more than two years, Davis’ Marian seems to be in perpetual mourning, a state that has harmed her relationship with her lover and friends. She has found comfort in her religious faith, an attitude that Caudle refreshingly doesn’t mock but accepts as a path this complex character would choose.In one of the best performances of the year, with delicate nuance, Hohn strikes just the right balance as the supportive spouse who also recognizes the underlying dangers of Paul’s manipulations. Her struggle as a step-parent also shows that love for a spouse doesn’t always automatically or easily translate into love for her child.Davis and Hohn, particularly in their closing scene, have just the right feel for Caudle’s dialogue, which is crisp but flows naturally and fits each character distinctly.Nick Thompson gives Paul a deeply sympathetic appeal but one that slowly and slyly reveals a darker side. He is a manipulative charmer, wrapping the audience around his finger as readily as he does Marian. Subsequent developments are all the more effective because of this well-crafted performance.As the conniving girlfriend, Shelly, Jessie Terrebonne also captures that compelling characteristic of making the audience want to reach out and rescue her. She is coyly attractive but desperately vulnerable. Even though we never believe the multitude of lies she tells, we want to save her. In the end, Terrebonne’s rich portrayal leaves us undecided as to whether she is victim, villain or somehow both.Becky Allen rounds out the cast, bringing both comic relief and dramatic drive to the action. As the landlady who has made Marin and Beth her “project,” Allen raises the role beyond being just the petty, nosy neighbor, but creates layers of meaning as a lonely, older woman seeking to define and create her own form of family. While audiences can get so accustomed to seeing Allen play that larger-than-life character of “Becky Allen,” her performance as Nat reminds us what a fine actress she is.Roger Grissom’s set and Su Gonczy’s lighting are solid assets to the production. The intimacy of the Mid-City Theatre also enhances the emotional reaction to the play.Expect to see “Visiting Hours,” this reflective gem of a play, on many year-end lists of favorites.
Visiting Hours at the Mid-City Theatre through April 21
Brian Sands, Ambush Magazine 4/10/12
Since I was a kid, I never liked the ambiguity of an unresolved ending--I wanted to know the fate of the characters I had just invested an hour or two in. I cried as Stuart Little drove off in search of his friend and, more recently, I was hoping for another act to show how the marriage of Light in the Piazza’s two young lovers would turn out.
In Visiting Hours, being given its world premiere by Rising Shiners, however, while we’re not exactly sure of what will happen to Marian and Beth, playwright David Caudle has done such a fine job of creating these and the rest of the characters that we can well imagine what the future holds for them. And the likelihood that it’s a sad and challenging one might explain the empathetic afterglow that lingered in my mind as I left the Mid-City Theatre.
Though set in Coral Gables, Florida (Roger Grissom’s set nicely reflects its beachside locale) Visiting Hours could take place almost anywhere in the country. Marian (Becki Davis) and Beth (Tari Hohn), a couple of some two decades, haven’t seen Paul, Marian’s son (and, by extension, Beth’s as well) in two years. Having paid off Paul’s gambling debts, they’re living a decent but simple existence courtesy of their friend Nat (Becky Allen) who is allowing them to stay rent-free in her garage apartment.
Visiting Hours is set in motion as Paul’s girlfriend Shelly (Jessie Terrebonne) lets herself in to the apartment. She’s not making a social call, though. Turns out Paul is in jail, arrested for aggravated assault, and needs bail money.
The resulting plot examines the loyalty we owe our family, friends and romantic partners, and to what extent we can trust those we know and love. That a lot of this turns on financial necessities resonates even more now in these Great Recession times than it would have when the play was first written over six years ago.
It is Caudle’s great achievement that his characters aren’t all they first appear to be. Marian, a bit older than Beth, seems like a softie but generally knows how to manipulate people to get what she wants. Beth looks like a sturdy broad but is more likely to give in than get her way. Nat is certainly generous but might it just be a way of controlling those around her? And Caudle keeps his audience wondering until the end whether there’s any hope for Paul and Shelly or if they’re simply some bad seeds.
Occasionally Caudle ladles on the exposition a bit thickly and there are some slow spots; I could’ve done without the let’s-look-thru-the-family-photos section. But there are many moments of gripping theater in Visiting Hours as buried truths are revealed. And Act One’s conclusion arises believably and dramatically infuses the play with multiple possibilities as to what will happen next.
Ann Mahoney Kadar, following up her delightful Anton in Show Business at Loyola, directed smoothly and brought out the characters’ imperfect humanity.
Davis and Hohn create two loving people who just sometimes see things differently. Davis’ Marian may be into religion and yoga but she’s a toughie when it comes to defending her cub. Hohn, in one of her best performances, wonderfully shows the desperation that comes of being in a situation over which you have little control.
Terrebonne, sunburnt and gamin-like, can pass as either a 23- or 35-year-old and makes Shelly’s brashness utterly natural. Nick
Thompson fashions Paul as a bitter little shit but his innate charm allows you to understand why he can get away with so much.
It comes as no surprise that Becky Allen can well-inhabit Nat’s generous side but she’s not afraid to show the ugly, needy parts of Nat as well. Sporting a new outfit with each entrance like a decked out Mardi Gras float, Allen’s Nat is a passive-aggressive, smart cookie with an alcoholic’s mean streak. While one wonders if Caudle imagined Allen when writing the role (as though anyone could envisage Becky prior to seeing her in the flesh), she brings an idiosyncratic flair to Nat as she expands her theatrical range.
Having debuted last year with their admirable production of The Weir, it is heartening to see Rising Shiners presenting a new play by an up-and-coming young playwright. Not sure what’s next on their agenda but I’ll be looking forward to it.