“Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” – Stray Cat Theatre

Theater Review – September 26, 2021


Stray Cat Theatre, Studio Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

The pandemic stifled the Valley’s live theater scene but now with safeguards in place, established companies are reopening.  It is especially noteworthy that Stray Cat Theatre is back with its usual interesting shows.  The lesser-known plays the company presents provide Valley theatergoers with well-produced alternatives to shows avoided by our established professional theaters – Arizona Theatre Company, The Phoenix Theatre Company, and ASU Gammage’s Broadway Across America seasons.  Stray Cat’s consistently exemplary productions place the tiny company with the bigger and better financed troupes.

At the beginning of Stray Cat’s opening production, Drew Droege’s “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” in bounds the sole character, Gerry, exploding all over the stage as he carries on imaginary dialogues with other guests at a Palm Springs gay wedding.

The character’s hyperexuberance never flags making character development and shadings impossible.  This problem falls to playwright Droege and not to the dynamo playing the part, Michael Thompson.  Thompson is phenomenal as he prances and paces around the stage in huge shoes, an outlandish casual outfit, dropping limp wrists with consistent abandon as he explores Gerry’s insecurities, doubts, fears, and other numerous foibles.

The play shares genuine bits of amusing merriment and madcap farcical mayhem that elicits laughter but no character, even the bizarre Gerry, can maintain this unbelievable and constant energy level and that hurts the play’s credibility. Only in the play’s last few moments does Gerry turn a bit reflective as he waxes philosophically about his actual life and what awaits him.

While the piece is limpidly and briskly staged by Louis Farber some of the director’s decisions don’t always make sense like Gerry’s constant chatting with the other non-existent guests all occurring on the sides of the stage.  At such a big gathering, Gerry would end up kibitzing all over the stage and not just in two limited areas.

So even though Thompson brings “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” to pulsating life, the character is amazingly shallow so the character’s one-dimensional ravings grow tiresome which dwarfs the play.

A note about the play’s title.  The wedding invitations state that guests should not wear bright colors or bold patterns, a silly request mostly left unexplained by playwright Droege.

Even if Stray Cat Theatre’s “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” disappoints, this spunky company, under the expert leadership of artistic director Ron May, consistently provides local theatergoers with masterful alternative theater worthy of the most discriminating theatergoers.  “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” proves an occasional miss.  It continues to October 2.  For tickets, contact the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822 or order tickets online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: C