‘Huckleberry Towers’ Sweet but no High-Rise

By Ernest Kearney — Huckleberry Towers is a show not without merit, but one without definition.

Brother and sister Tom (Raziel Fritz) and Wendy (Roberta Fasso-Locke) are settling their parents Helen (Barbara Piecka) and Henry (Andrew Piecka) into the Huckleberry Towers retirement home. The brother and sister are at odds over doing this, as are their parents. Conflicts are set up…then ignored. It is the last we’ll see of the two children, and there’ll be no further reference to them ‘till the very end of the play.

And here we have the failing of this work: conflicts repeatedly established, conflicts repeatedly dismissed, allowing for no dramatic spine upon which to rest the piece.

There are too many thrusts of the narrative here, with none scoring a hit: parent vs. child, sibling vs. sibling, male vs. female, staff vs. residents (a nod to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), the death of a loved one, even a swipe at Donald Trump in the guise of a menacing corporate buyer.

Anyone of these, in and of themselves, could have been hard-hitting in dramatic terms, but humped together they come across as patty-cake.

One suspects, this is a teleplay disguised as a play. Structurally the first half of the show feels like a pilot for a network series, the second half like the series finale, but everything in between is lacking.

At nineteen characters the stage is cluttered and opportunities for delving into the individuals and their separate stories diluted to the point of disappearing.

There are some nice performances here, but they tend to get lost in the crowd.

Playwright Stanley Brown has written some clever dialogue, and constructed some promising situations, but none of them have achieved the development needed and for this the fault falls on Director Stanley Brown.

Getting rid of the excess here, and finding another to direct could help in getting an enjoyable play out of what is now merely a Huckleberry bramble.

NOTE: In Featured Image: Henry Auburn (Andrew Piecka) debates moving into a retirement home with his wife, Helen (Barbara Piecka), in the original comedy Huckleberry Towers.

on stage at
Elate’s Lincoln Stegman Theatre
Address: 6020 Radford Ave,
North Hollywood, CA 91606
Phone: (818) 509-0882

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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