Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Mr. Parker
Island City Stage
Review by Jeffrey Bruce


Margot Moreland, Samuel Maya,
and Michael McKeever

Photo by George Wentzler
Michael McKeever, South Florida's most prolific and successful playwright, has added a new gem to his catalogue of 30 plays with the wonderful Mr. Parker. A tale of love and loss, one of the reasons the play is successful is because I cannot imagine a single soul not able to relate to the situation the titular character finds himself in.

Terry Parker (McKeever, himself) is a 54-year-old widower, whose husband Jeffrey died in a car crash on the West Side Highway in New York, seven months prior. They had been together for 30 years and Parker has found it difficult to get on with his life—until he decides to visit a local bar and brings the handsome bartender Justin (Samuel Maya) home with him for what both thought would be a one-night stand.

In a three-character play, we know there is going to be some type of future for the twosome, but, sly writer that McKeever is, we don't quite know how they will end up. The aforementioned third character, Cassandra (Margot Moreland), is Jeffrey's sister. A mouth on two legs, she spews her venom, when needed, and her self-centeredness doesn't hide the fact that she is just as hurt as Terry. She sees Terry with the 28-year-old Justin and cannot comprehend the age difference. Does she resent Terry for getting on with his life? Is she still trying to control him as she did Jeffrey, a successful artist? Rest assured that the ending holds a few surprises that have many in the audience in tears. The final moments, while predictable, are extremely effective, because, well, that's life, isn't it?

The cast could not be bettered. Michael McKeever, in addition to his writing talents, is also one of the busiest actors in the area and he has a worthy sparring partner in Margot Moreland, who manages to make us love her/hate her with panache. Watching them both throwing profanities as well as closeted admiration for each other is a thrill to observe. Young Mr. Maya, making his theatrical debut memorably (his very first entrance is stark naked) keeps up with the seasoned pros. There are times when he seems slightly daunted by the actual real-life situation he is in, being in a professional production alongside two of the area's best actors, but it works endearingly.

The pedigree of the cast is topped by director Michael Leeds who keeps things moving quickly and rivetingly. Add to that a beautiful set of a Manhattan studio by Ardean Landhuis, who doubles on perfect lighting design, the realistic sound work of David Hart, and the appropriate costumes by Peter Lovello and you have what is becoming rarer and rarer: an actual play, free of artifice and one that, as I mentioned is totally relatable.

Several of Mr. McKeever's plays have been produced around the world. Watch for Mr. Parker. I know you will be glad you did. Bravi to all concerned.

Mr. Parker, through July 15th, 2018, at Island City Stage, 2304 No. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors FL. For tickets and information, call the box office at 954-519-2533 or visit the company's website at www.islandcitystage.org Photo credit: George Wentzler


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