Elite Theatre Co. debuts new drama
by Jim Spencer and Shirley Lorraine
From police to private eyes to preachers. These are just some of the principal characters populating the various works of the Elite Theatre Company’s prolific resident playwright and artistic director, Tom Eubanks.
The Elite just debuted Eubanks most recent work, In The Midst of All That is Good. It was also directed by the author.
Bob Haggard (played by Jeff Ham) is an evangelical pastor of a small community church. Pastor Bob has brought his teenaged daughter and son, along with his father, to a California desert campground for a family retreat. Planning to stay for five days, and to avoid having their car again vandalized at the trail head parking lot, Bob has had his wife drop the group off with instructions to return at the end of the week. The outing ends up being anything but idealic.
The action opens as the group returns to camp after Bob has impaled his foot on a nail protruding from an abandoned piece of wood. The only cell phone in camp is mysteriously missing and it is the off season. So, the adventurers are now isolated with no other campers around.
Other on-going interpersonal issues soon come into play. Pastor Bob’s father, Lloyd (portrayed by David Fruechting) turns out to be a disgraced televangelist who has lost his faith and is dealing with tax issues and the IRS.
Son Carson (played by Alex Czajka) is either profoundly hearing impaired or deaf, yet Bob has never bothered to learn sign language. He must rely on his daughter, Maddie (Hanna Eubanks), to communicate with his son for him. Hannah holds an attitude because her father unwisely invested and lost the entire fund set aside to send her brother to Gallaudet University, a 150-year-old institution of higher education for the deaf.
Into this setting come two outlaw marijuana growers – Dennis (Johnny Avila) and Vic (Josh Carmichael). The first turns out to have mental health issues and is off his medications. The other brandishes a gun, and Bob ends up accidently getting shot in the hand. Oh, and along the way, we learn Pastor Bob’s wife is in the process of leaving him for another woman.
The script is filled with myriad intriguing conflicts and possibilities. It offers valuable insights on a number of topics. However, many details are offered that are left unresolved in the end. In our view the layers of complications tend to muddy the central theme, adding little to the overall value.
Nevertheless, Pastor Bob’s struggles to deal with the multiple personal crises that arise, along with the diverse characters in the piece, hold promise. They hold the promise that, after the inevitable polishing, trimming and adjustments that follow a premier production, the play will foster in audiences the same type of commitment that motivated the playwright in the first place.
The Elite is an appropriate platform and actively promotes new works by local authors, giving both actors and writers opportunities to stretch and grow in many ways.
2731 Victoria Ave, Oxnard, 483-5118