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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS Compass Performing Arts Center/Navigation Theatre Company
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Oct 25, 2019, 17:07
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Through November 16
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS The Compass Performing Arts Center/Navigation Theatre Company

New script. New theater company name. New theater name.
Confused?
Navigation Theatre Company is staging Mark Humphrey’s interesting and well-done “The Kindness of Strangers” in the Compass Performing Arts Center.
A few months ago, that would have been American Repertory Theatre of WNY in TheatreLoft.
Same building with extensive internal renovations and an art gallery.
The show?
This is one of those confined scripts in a restricted space with an opening set of characters telling a relatively short, two-act story.
It’s a winter night in a small town in a bar next to a railroad station, apparently one of those commuter stations down in the Hudson Valley.
A blizzard is gradually gathering steam and the trains and the buses are stopped, the snow is piling up in the stage window of Billy’s bar and customers are stuck drinking.
Billy (John F. Kennedy) is used to customers drifting in and out in this apparently small town because of the train station.
Here, the cast has assembled on director Matthew LaChiusa’s set, Jackie (Timothy Coseglia), Linda (Suzie Hibbard), Frank (Victor Morales) and Peter (Monish Bhattacharayya).
We learn a little about them:
Jackie’s status as an action movie star whose career is crumbling over his ex-wife's mysterious hit-and-run death and his subsequent acquittal, Linda’s role as his fixer, Frank’s status as a man migrating from cancer center to cancer center looking for a cure and Peter’s visit to his high school reunion from his career making porn films.
Gradually, they assemble around a card table and probe each other’s story with Linda monitoring.
If you have seen Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” you can see where this is going.
That’s when Frank makes a proposal which the other guys are interested in and Linda’s objections suggest things may not have been in the suspected pattern.
It’s a little like my college ethics class when the professor set up a pattern and asked how you would handle it.
I didn’t like some of the classroom anticipated results.
Playwright Humphrey would completely understand.
The audience leaves the theater with a question: What next?
That’s why it’s worth seeing “The Kindness of Strangers.”
LaChiusa has his own effective and evocative set to do with some strong performances, especially Morales, Bhattacharayya and Kennedy.
Tangled stories and some well-scripted words mean a trip to this theater.

A.W.

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