REVIEW: “Wrecking Ball” by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company 

By Katrina “Kat” Reynolds

Continuing with its tradition of giving world premieres to new plays, Cincy Shakes presents Wrecking Ball, a new comedy by Cincinnati native Zina Camblin. Taking place in a Hollywood writers’ room, we get a peek into the how the drama can spill out from the script and into the lives of those in the room itself. 

The Wrecking Ball Production Team

The seemingly simple, yet wildly layered set by Scenic Designer Sarah Lambert is the ideal foundation for this original piece. It is large enough for the actors to have room to move around, yet gives the illusion of a space than can easily close in on you should you have to stay in it for longer than planned. As always, Properties Design by Kara Eble Trusty is nothing short of perfection. Extra applause to the appearance of Buffalo Trace – my favourite bourbon – on stage.

While this reviewer is often impressed with the skills of Costume Designer Daryl Harris, this show in particular offers excellent glimpses into the background of each character by their ensembles alone. Finally, Projections Design by Robert Carlton Stimmel work seamlessly with the action to tell the stories in this script. Mr. Stimmel also incorporates some amusing easter eggs for frequent CSC attendees. As Tyson would probably say: “Tens across the board, dahlings!”

The cast of Wrecking Ball at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Photo credit to Mikki Schaffner.

The Performing Artists

This cast is an absolute embarrassment of riches for the audiences. Boasting the talents of (in no particular order) Darnell Pierre Benjamin, Burgess Byrd, Jeremy Dubin, acting royalty Dale Hodges, Patrick Earl Phillips, and more. While this is a true ensemble piece with every artist holding their own, I would be remiss if I did not mention some specifics.

Making her CSC debut, Victoria Cartagena brings an incredible energy to the role of Abby. Given Ms. Cartagena’s impressive resume (television credits including shows with Netflix, AppleTV, and the CW), one can surmise that she is more of a veteran in “real life” than her very green character, but she delivers a top-notch turn as a young writers’ assistant just trying to break into the biz. She is subtle, yet roars like a lion at the same time. An impressive depiction, full stop.

Another standout display of talent comes from Cincinnati’s own Sara Mackie. Hot off the heels of a tour-de-force set of roles in This is Tom Jones! produced by Human Race Theatre Company, Mz. Mackie is once again a delight. She runs the gamut in the role of Chloe, a writer and recent divorcee trying to stay positive and see the good in everyone and everything. There is absolutely nothing not to like about her marvelous portrayal and she will give you all of “the feels.” 

Sara Mackie as Chloe in Wrecking Ball produced by CSC. Photo credit to Mikki Schaffner.

The Bottom Line

SCPA Alum Zina Camblin should be pleased as punch with their final product. Loosely quoting Director of Development Sara Clark, Mx. Camblin chose to align with a “relentless” theatre company and it pays off richly. Even if you have never been in the writers’ room yourself, Wrecking Ball is an honest, relatable story for anyone who ever felt passionate about something. It is a tale which touches all manner of humans and Mx. Camblin is an epic storyteller. 

Tickets to Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company runs now through October 28. Tickets can be purchased by going online.