Orange County Theatre Reviews

(All photos by Doug Catiller)

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

While I can understand the heart behind the production of Violet, the realism the playwright tries to bring into this story is so far off it would have been better if it was just imaginary.  However, this production’s talented cast keeps the audience’s attention with well-practiced action and drama.

As the victim of a horrific childhood accident, Violet’s face was prominently disfigured for everyone to see.  Her scar has made her a target for bullies, malicious pranks, and unwanted pity.  Longing to possess a face like those of the movie stars gracing the covers of magazines, 24-year-old Violet sets out on a long bus ride to meet her favorite televangelist, the Preacher, and she is certain he will grant her a miracle.

The stage itself is fairly plain, but so is the setting.  Most of the story takes place on a public bus.  Since the people in the show are travelers, the background and walls are made up of suitcases.  There are slants on both sides of the stage for actors to walk up and down.  As a medium for telling the story, it does its job but isn’t very interesting to look at until a certain scene involving mirrors comes into play.  It ultimately doesn’t matter much because for the majority of the performance it doesn’t really matter how the stage looks due to the actors carrying themselves well enough to keep your mind on them.

The acting in this show is pretty good across the board.

Let’s talk about the plot.

The story takes place in 1964. Violet is traveling from North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  At no point does her bus pass through any areas where integration is legal.  Her easily birthed friendships with two soldiers (one black and one white) would imply that Violet’s scar sets her in a class of people naturally grouped together in comfort.  Indeed, the story itself does more than just imply it, it states it outright.  When Violet casually asserts that her scar helps her to understand the struggles of black people, her statement is accepted without challenge.  We just move on. Race is mentioned in the story, but it’s nowhere near as prevalent or as present as it would be in reality.  To a certain extent I understand why that is because this is Violet’s story about a scar and her coming to accept herself having the scar, but they drop the “n” word in this show, and it’s just sort of left as a footnote, as in “By the way, racism is a thing.”

Violet herself is not a candidate for possessing the healthiest mindset.  Throughout the show she has both flashbacks and fantasies centering on her interactions with other people in the show.  Most of these involve her perceiving herself not as a grown woman but as a child. While this is fine for the flashbacks, it’s a little odd for the fantasies.  The idea that she still sees herself as childlike and vulnerable is never really ever addressed.  Violet is perpetually injured, both physically and emotionally.  While it’s fine to have a character flaw, she herself never comes through…she never heals.  She never grows or finds something within herself to make herself stronger, and that cheapens any joy our titular character gains.
 
Most of my enjoyment from this show comes from the acting.  Adult Violet (Monika Pena) is rough, tough, and someone you root for.  Young Violet (Rebeka Hoblik) is precious.  Both actresses’ faces are presented to the audience as unmarked and unmarred. We see Violet as the beauty she really is.  Flick (Taylor Fagins) is robust and enthusiastic.  The Preacher (Chris Kerrigan) in this story is a perfect swine.  Overall everyone sells his or her role well and can sing nicely.  However, what is arguably Violet‘s best song, “On My Way,” is over and done with in the first 10 minutes of the show.

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Good Show
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8 Overall
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