“The Antipodes” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – September 9, 2018


Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Like most Stray Cat Theatre productions, the troupe’s latest, “The Antipodes,” is a most unusual piece that is difficult to figure out.  Written by Annie Baker, the playwright has been responsible for past Stray Cat plays most notably “The Flick” that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama a few seasons back.

“The Antipodes” is set in a conference room where a staff under the direction of Sandy is attempting to tell stories and come up with something that might be viable as pitch for an unspecified project.  Some in the room think the project might be a monster movie but after babbling on and on, it may not be the right project.  Other ideas come up and get explored some more intensely than others.  Sandy, never definitive about what he has in mind is quick though to stifle contributions he apparently doesn’t like causing endless frustration among the struggling group.  Just what Sandy is after is never made clear and the group isn’t filled with any truly creative geniuses so most at the table tell rudimentary tales that lead nowhere.  The only other extra interest is a Sandy’s weird assistant who interrupts from time to time to take meal orders or announce a telephone call.

The two-hour discussion does contain humor and a few of the ideas are bizarre enough to briefly entertain the audience but ultimately most in attendance ended up checking their watches more and more often wondering how much longer it would be before the piece ended.

An announcement before the delayed curtain informed the audience that the theater’s lighting was not working but one wonders if that wasn’t just an added bit of business in the weird play.  But the real or imagined technical issue didn’t hamper any acting performances among the talented ensemble.  David Weiss led the group artfully as Sandy and Ron May kept the play as interesting as possible with the undefined script.

“The Antipodes” continues at the Tempe Center for the Arts through September 27.  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-350-2822 or order online at www.straycattheatre.org.  Be warned that parking is AWFUL due to construction that has removed all close-in parking and know that handicapped parking is hidden.  Most important, don’t let unknowing parking personnel push you around.

If weird and non-traditional theater is your thing, “The Antipodes” is worth hassling the parking but if a conventional story with a beginning, middle, and clear ending is your thing, “The Antipodes” may be best avoided.

Grade: C