Know Theatre of Cincinnati has opened their 25th season, dubbed “what we owe to each other,” with “Sunrise Coven” by Brendan Bourque-Sheil. Described as “a sharp-tongued comedy about healers, healing, pharmaceuticals, and witchcraft in a little town that’s just barely hanging on,” one might question if such a show fits in with the Season 25 mantra. Believe me: it does.
The play opens with Hallie (Denise Dal Vera), the town’s favorite Nurse Practitioner, waking up in the ER after a serious overdose of OxyContin in her hometown of Buckstop, TX (where you get the feeling the buck never really stops so much as it gives up). Annie (Resa Mashina), the doctor treating her, has long held Hallie in high regard due to a correct diagnosis of her mother’s illness when Annie was just a child. It was in fact Hallie’s “magic” medicine which inspired Annie to pursue a career in medicine herself.
Without going into heavy detail and risking spoilers, we start to find out just what else there is to know about Hallie following her 72-hour psychiatric hold. Buckstop is one of those towns where everyone knows everyone else – and through Hallie’s personal struggles, we cross paths with the husband of a long-time patient (Michael Burnham), a Veteran-turned-partner in crime (Ryan-Chavez Richmond), and a local shop-owner/practicing witch (Julie Sonia Locker). It is here that we see some unpleasant truths in a world where doing our best to help might be choosing the lesser of two evils.
Director Holly L. Derr finds a great balance in addressing the play’s more serious issues such as addiction, the costs of aging and illness, and pitfalls of faith with some well-executed (and much appreciated) moments of humor. The pacing is steady and the actors are adept in their use of props and set pieces. Due to the nature of the set and its design, many people contribute to its success, but two names of note are the ever-talented Douglas J. Borntrager who serves as the Sound & Projection Designer and Danielle Robison who delights as the Props Designer/Scenic Charge.
The standout acting performance is Ms. Mashina as Annie, due to her character choices and impressive range. Both my own partner-in-crime and I were particularly fond of the nervous giggle she uses to punctuate certain awkward moments. In addition, I was happy to see under the “special thanks” section a nod to the Cincinnati Association For The Blind and Visually Impaired because I am a lifelong advocate for those with disabilities–and not just because I work for them. 🙂
Know’s season opener begs the question “What could go wrong when you’re running a discount pharmacy with a witchy New Age shop as your cover?” Fortunately for the audience, nothing goes wrong in the execution of this excellent night of theatre.
“Sunrise Coven” runs now through August 28th. Know Theatre of Cincinnati features several pricing levels to support your local artists including discounted tickets on Wednesdays through The Welcome Experiment. To purchase tickets, visit https://www.knowtheatre.com/tickets/.
Katrina “Kat” Reynolds is a local performing artist and directress. She has served as copy editor for Rob Bucher’s Behind The Curtain Cincinnati. Her company, Harley Quinn Studios, produces old-timey radio show content and provides the place “where the voices in your head come to play.” She also works for Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI). This is her first season reviewing for LCT.