Car factory at heart of stage production

Skeleton Crew’ is strong show from Curious Theatre

Posted 4/3/19

The setting is the break room at a Detroit auto plant, with a high window that looks out onto the assembly line, a cavernous space beyond. There is a block of small personal lockers, a strip with …

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Car factory at heart of stage production

Skeleton Crew’ is strong show from Curious Theatre

Posted

The setting is the break room at a Detroit auto plant, with a high window that looks out onto the assembly line, a cavernous space beyond. There is a block of small personal lockers, a strip with sink, refrigerator, coffee maker … We don’t get the associated factory noise, but a series of animated films streamed across that window somehow imply it, in a clever set detail for Dominique Morriseau’s “Skeleton Crew” at Curious Theatre through April 13.

It is part of a three-play series: “The Detroit Project,” which gave us “Detroit 67” last season. Curious’ director donnie l. betts, a longtime part of Denver’s theater community, said it tells “of those with less opportunity to prosper.” Characters, especially Faye (strong actress Perri Gaffney), who is approaching a 30-year anniversary, seem locked into a particular culture of auto workers and have difficulty seeing beyond the world shown. (Framed in by that window.)

Faye represents the many, many, workers, in Detroit and elsewhere, who are driven by a way of life and work that may also have been their parents’ way … The management figure is foreman Reggie (Cajardo Lindsey, a familiar local face) and younger cast members/workers Shanita (Kristina Fountaine) and Quinn Marchman (Dex), who is saving money to buy his own garage — although his ability to run a business might be questioned, with his hot-tempered responses.

The younger characters show a different attitude toward authority and how the world seems to work, but are also feeling off-center with the rumor that the plant’s about to close. One feels tension in the air, swirling the smoke from Kaye’s cigarettes. Kaye is supposedly the union rep. but feels helpless against the system. “Working in this industry is what I do.” Reggie’s mama was her friend, so there’s almost a family connection. But she has another issue.

Conversations continue through several days in that break room. Stories surface that the plant was robbed last night. Bits of 1960s music tie scenes together and are especially effective, we thought.

We care about these characters and when Faye says “I make my moves day to day,” this person who runs on a schedule of deadlines and thoughts about what’s happening next week, cringes and wants to offer help as well — as Reggie does! Faye had thought of making it to 30 years, retiring and then heading to Miami … With the threat of a pink slip any day, she’s up a creek. “My mama loved you. She’d slap me good if I didn’t help you …” Reggie says.

Faye asks: “Let me stay one more night. I need to figure it out on my own.” He answers: “I’ll stay here with you …”

We’d recommend this strong production to our readers.

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