(Cover Photo: Margo Thompson, Ginny Hilli and Elyssa Miller in a scene from Kara Emily Krantz's "ALL BARK, NO BITE" presented by Stratton Players at the New Players Theatre Guild Building in Fitchburg, MA. now playing through May 20, 2023. Photo Credit Andy DeSisto)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
“Life is exceedingly tiresome without you. Please come back and sit with me."
- ("Eugene") Kara Emily Krantz
Written by Kara Emily Krantz
Directed by Andy DeSisto
Cast Includes: Elyssa Miller, Margo Thompson, Christine Guertin, Arjun Yadav, Ginny Hilli
Additional Creative Team:
Stage Manager - Mary Phillpotts; Assistant Stage Manager - Nancy Ruiz-Aleman; Set Design & Dressing - Amy Newberg; Set Construction & Painting - Hal Smith, Nancy King, Amy Newberg; Costumes - Val Schillawski, Amy Newberg; Lights & Sound - Tim Fischer, Nyk Fischer; Publicity/Marketing - Nancy Lemont, Sally Cragin; Program - Sally Cragin; Producers - Nancy Lemont, Amy Newberg.
May 19, 2023 through May 20, 2023
(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)
New Players Theatre Guild Center for the Performing Arts, 15 Rollstone Street, Fitchburg, MA.
For Tickets Contact the Box Office at # 978-345-6066 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID 19 PROTOCOLS
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Stratton Players presents the raucously waggish comedy, “ALL BARK, NO BITE” running through May 20th and this is one show that certainly takes a bite out of the lives of obsessed dog owners and equally obsessed “owner dogs.”
Charlotte (Christine Guertin) and “Eugene” (Elyssa Miller) together lead a basically tranquil life...at least, as far as "Eugene" is concerned.
That basic tranquility ends for "Eugene" mere moments after lights come up on Kara Emily Krantz’s hysterical “ALL BARK, NO BITE.”
Anxious Charlotte has asked Robert (Arjun Yadav) and “Bella” (Ginny Hilli) over - but it will be a gathering that, ultimately, will alter the direction of everyone’s lives.
Charlotte intends to disclose a secret to Robert but fears, by doing so, that it will shatter the their insular relationship.
(Photo: Ginny Hilli, Christine Guertin and Elyssa Miller in a scene from Kara Emily Krantz's "ALL BARK, NO BITE" presented by Stratton Players at the New Players Theatre Guild Building in Fitchburg, MA. now playing through May 20, 2023. Photo Credit Andy DeSisto)
Guertin balances well a multitude of insecurities as Charlotte but with never going over the top in her performance.
"Eugene" could care less if Robert comes or goes as long as he doesn't do ANYTHING to upset the normal course of "Eugene" and Charlotte's existence.
Robert does just that.
Robert shows up to Charlotte’s with “Bella” in tow - and excitable Bella is immediately smitten with “Eugene.”
“Eugene” is not so much smitten with "Bella" and it is more likely he would rather smite her, instead.
Similar to "Tigger" from "Winnie the Pooh," the interloper "Bella" proves herself to be " bouncey, trouncey, ouncey, pouncey, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun."
All "Bella" wants to be is happy together with Robert, Charlotte and her new pal, "Eugene."
All new pal "Eugene" wants is for "Bella" and Robert to be gone...immediately.
(Photo: Ginny Hilli, Elyssa Miller and Margo Thompson in a scene from Kara Emily Krantz's "ALL BARK, NO BITE" presented by Stratton Players at the New Players Theatre Guild Building in Fitchburg, MA. now playing through May 20, 2023. Photo Credit Andy DeSisto)
As Robert, Yadav gives a steady performance but his character seems limited, serving merely as a stabilizing presence to all the craziness taking place around him as "Eugene" rebuffs the chronically cheerful "Bella."
“Bella” doesn't give up on "Eugene," though. She is persistent, constantly nudging at “Eugene” but, while she persists, “Eugene” resists.
The "pawsitively" ridiculous premise for this comedy will keep audiences tethered to their seats as the remainder of the hilarious play is unleashed.
As the fire of hostility between “Bella” and “Eugene” finally begins to simmer, Charlotte’s neighbor, Suzanne (Margo Thompson), shows up (both unannounced and intoxicated) then immediately proceeds to throw gasoline (or rather alcohol) onto the fire.
Thompson, as the inebriated character of Suzanne, succeeds in making her about as eccentric as they come, providing more than a few chuckles.
There were a couple of minor line stumbles at the May 19th performance but the actors quickly recovered.
(Photo: Margo Thompson, Ginny Hilli and Elyssa Miller in a scene from Kara Emily Krantz's "ALL BARK, NO BITE" presented by Stratton Players at the New Players Theatre Guild Building in Fitchburg, MA. now playing through May 20, 2023. Photo Credit Andy DeSisto)
The "Odd Couple"-like chemistry between Elyssa Miller's “Eugene” and Ginny Hilli's “Bella” is what makes the entire play work.
It is a perfect balance of superior material as written by Krantz and a fine execution of that material by the performers.
Both canine personalities (in case you hadn't figured out, yet, that they're dogs) are polar opposites of one another.
Hilli is especially effervescent as young “Bella,” which requires a great deal of taxing, physical comedy playing opposite Miller's older, stodgier "Eugene."
In other words, her perkiness is simply and deliciously exhausting.
Both actors share equal credit in the production's overall success because "Bella" is to "Eugene" what "Odie" is to "Garfield" in the comics.
The wonderfully constructed line-to-line progression of Krantz’s clever dialogue immediately grabs the audience’s attention from the outset and, like a dog with a bone, it never lets go.
The Stratton production, under the steadfast guidance of director Andy DeSisto, prompts us to immediately become invested in the plight of these characters.
Stratton’s production of “ALL BARK, NO BITE” continues in Fitchburg only for two more performances tomorrow (May 20th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm) but, most assuredly, is well worth seeing.
Approximately two hours with one intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
In Kara Emily Krantz's "ALL BARK, NO BITE" Charlotte and Eugene live a quiet, no-nonsense lifestyle surrounded by sudoku and argyle.
Robert and Bella are boisterous and messy and ridiculously in love.
Then there's the neighbor, Suzanne, who basically doesn't know what's going on, but definitely has something to say about it.
Sure, relationships can be exciting! They can also be confusing, unexpected, and expose us to profound emotional risk.
However, relationships are almost always worth exploring, and if we’re willing to be vulnerable, can fill up the empty or wounded spaces in our hearts.
And if that doesn’t work? Well, get a dog.
ABOUT STRATTON PLAYERS
Stratton Players continues to provide a creative outlet for men and women interested in any aspect of play production, whether it be acting, costuming, set design or construction, publicity, stage management, or tickets.
98 Prospect Street
Fitchburg, Massachusetts 01452
Phone # 978-345-6066