The Barnstable Comedy Club (BCC) opened this past Thursday with Mr. Robert’s, a play written by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan which was derived from Mr. Heggen’s novel. The novel was an expression of the many comedic situations he himself experienced during WWII aboard the USS Virgo on which he served as a Lieutenant from 1944-1945.
The production takes place on a smartly designed, minimalistic set in order to portray a U.S. Navy Cargo Ship. The use of small props and furniture change the look of the ship to signify the different compartments, which Director and Set Designer Jeffery Billard does a great job capturing the look of what he is trying to portray. One small issue that interrupts the flow of the show is the changing of these set pieces as they are done in full view of the audience with the absence of a lighting change which is a bit awkward.
Mr. Roberts is best remembered for the 1955 movie starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon and overall Mr.Billard & BCC’s production does a fantastic job with this ensemble cast showing the frustrations of the crew that are overloaded with the tedious work of supplying other ships in the waning months of WWII. The ensemble as a whole truly shows the emotions the men of this time and situation they were going through. Every ensemble character stays present while on stage adding to the enjoyment, not to mention the comedic antics and somewhat interesting costuming (yet appropriate) choices.
There are three stand out performances in this production belonging to Gary Mitchell,Robert Bock and Keith Caldwell. Mr. Mitchell plays the old curmudgeon and dictator like Captain of the ship who the crew are disheartened with, dead on with out taking his power overboard in his portrayal. Mr. Bock, although in a smaller secondary role brings his obvious experience to the stage and plays his character Dowdy perfectly. Mr. Caldwell as Doc, is a breath of fresh air with natural stage presence and comedic timing. He shines and steals the scenes every time he steps on stage.
The title character Mr. Roberts is played by Steve Ross, a veteran Cape Community Theatre actor. Overall he does an admirable job on his take of Mr. Roberts who tries o make life on the ship more bearable for the men and is therefore well liked. However, Mr. Ross seems not to show the many facets to his character and at times under plays his character. This is especially seen when playing opposite Dan Powers as Ensign Pulver as he has the very opposite effect of overacting his character to the point of annoyance. I will give him some kudos as I feel he finally shows his acting chops literally in the last moments of the show.
This show is well worth the price of admission!! If you would like to go see it it is playing for 2 more weekends: March 23-24th and 30-31st at 8:00pm and March 18th and April 1st 2:30pm.