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Rags to

Riches p. 21

Volume 3, Issue 18 • September 2–15, 2011• San Diego Uptown News Ion Theatre

stages “Grace” A roller coaster, no holding back production

By Cuauhtémoc Kish SDUN Theater Critic

Craig Wright’s “Grace” is an

exhilarating roller-coaster ride that starts out literally with a bang—from a hand-held pis- tol—then moves back in time to recreate the moments leading up to that terrifying blast. This drama might be something you would expect from a new writer on seasoned television shows like “Six Feet Under” and “Lost.” Director Glenn Paris moves

his four-actor cast with seamless effort that affords them an op- portunity to connect and collide non-stop with one another for the full 95 minutes they share on the intimate ion Theatre stage in Hill- crest. There is no intermission. “Grace” takes on the heavy subject matter of religion, busi- ness, intimacy, and politics. These themes are woven into the

Through September 10 Ion’s BlkBox Theatre Thursday & Friday 8 p.m. Saturday 3 & 8 p.m. 619-600-5020

lives of a young couple—Steve, played by Francis Gercke and Sara, played by Rhiana Basore— that have recently relocated to Florida. Added into the mix is a neighbor (Sam, played by Nick Kennedy) and a dour-looking condo exterminator (Karl, played by Jim Chovick). As the story unfolds, Steve

can hardly contain himself with the news about funding for a scheme to construct a chain of Jesus-themed hotels. Sara, the pragmatist in the family, remains skeptical about the funding and

Francis Gercke, Nick Kennedy & Rhianna Basore. (Courtesy of Karin Filijan)

rightly so. Somewhat predictably, the funds are not forthcoming and the resulting economic and emotional woes take a toll on their childless marriage. Wright has written Sam’s role as the emotional catalyst that easily pulls Sara away from her husband. The character Sam has a disturbingly honest and painful tale about an automobile accident that resulted in the death of his fiancée and provided him with

his scarred facial deformity. The character of Karl, a non-believer, mixes emotions up further with a disturbing recollection about the Holocaust. Gercke tackles the role of Steve, the ‘Jesus freak,’ with a passion. His belief system is con- stantly on display and he wears his emotions raw throughout the production in one of the best act- ing roles I’ve witnessed this year. Basore is no slouch in the role of

the skeptical wife, moving away from both God and Steve in a nu- anced performance that is honest and believable. Kennedy does well as Sam, the neighbor and NASA scientist who pushed his fiancée inadver- tently into an unforeseen death. Sam lost everything, and Ken- nedy plays guilt and heartache well, speaking about time and

see ion, page 28

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