Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler

Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts comes out swinging right from the opening second when the Uptown Chicago donut shop where the play is set is trashed in the dark.

Letts is no stranger to dealing with tough subjects.  He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for best play for August: Osage County in 2008.

The Superior Donuts shop is owned by Arthur Przybyszewski played by Randolph Mantooth.  Arthur is a soft talking person who mostly lets life pass him by.  He is shackled to his past.  He evaded the draft in 1968 and his father called him a coward.  He is divorced with a daughter he hasn’t seen for years.  Superior Donuts is his refuge, but it too is also stuck in the past.  His monologues on the dimly stage are exquisite.  Mantooth gave a strong performance.

Through the door enters Franco Wicks played by Brian Marable.  This young man turns Arthur’s world upside down.  He is living on the edge with serious trouble at the door and trying to make his mark.  Marable was more than up to the task for this part.  He brought energy to the stage and says at one point, “You have to keep your feet moving”.

Other characters included Max Tarazov played by David Daoust.  He is a recent immigrant from Russia to the U.S. and wants desperately to succeed.  He is loud and abrasive and provided a good contrast to Arthur.  Michelle Mountain plays Officer Randy Osteen and is the budding love interest in Arthur’s life although he is slow to grasp the concept.  She comes across as a tough, street wise, but tender policewoman.  Officer James Bailey is played by Lynch R. Travis.  He has to know everyone’s business and tries to help people.  Both play the police roles very well.  Lady Boyle is played by Sandy Ryder and is a street person.  Her life is full of tragedy and she never sits still for long.  We have sympathy for her because she is fragile and caring.

There are two bad guys.  Luther Flynn is a low level crime boss played by Alex Leydenfrost.  Kevin Magee, played by Ryan Carlson, is his muscle.  He hurts people who don’t pay up. Franco is in deep to these bandits.  They both came across as bad guys.

Near the end of the play the bad guys hurt Franco by cutting off three of his fingers.  This action causes Arthur to come out of his cave.  He sells the store to Tarazov to raise money to pay off the kid’s debt.  But he takes it a step further because he is enraged by the savage act. commited on his friend.  He fights Luther Flynn, and by all rights the bad guy should have won.  But Arthur wins and seriously injures Luther in return for what was done to Franco.  Street justice prevails.

More importantly, by sticking up for Franco, Arthur overcomes the burden of being a coward by his father back in the sixties when he fled to Canada and regains his own spirit.     The set made us feel as though we were in a real donut shop.  All they needed was the smell of donuts.  It was a great set and the lighting was also well done.  The play flowed smoothly from one segment to the next.

I highly recommend this play to everyone.  There is some rough language but it goes with the play.  They play is about the revival of hope and the will to survive.  Change is never easy and life can throw some vicious curves, but we can never give up.

Director Guy Sanville did an excellent job with this production.  His cast and crew were treated to a standing ovation at the 10/7/2012 performance that we attended.

Superior Donuts will be performed through December 15, 2012 at the Purple Rose Theatre located at 137 Park Street in downtown Chelsea, MI.  For tickets and other information call: 734-433-7782.  For their schedule and to order tickets visit their website at  www.PurpleRoseTheatre.org

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