When this reviewer has the opportunity to write about a production presented by South Camden Theatre Company (SCTC), the adjectives that usually spring to mind include insightful, well cast, and thought-provoking. With their latest production and regional premier of CHARLIE VICTOR ROMEO (CVR), SCTC has reached even higher. Now, first of all, this is not like most theatrical pieces. In other words, the usual conventions are not obvious in CVR. The set is a small cramped space filled with electronics; the costumes are uniforms; the movement is non-existent as all action is done seated; and the dialogue is verbatim from recovered aircraft black boxes. In CVR, theatrical expectations are there…they are just subsumed inside the elaborate and extremely specific jargon and situations of airline pilots and ground traffic personnel.
Now add the adjectives unique, artistic, and “sticky” and one comes close to an appreciation of CVR. Director, Joseph M. Paprzycki, worked with his ensemble of seven (7) actors to perform each of the six “flights” that comprise CVR to provide six complete stories each at its most terrifying point. Since passengers do not hear what is happening in the cockpit, CVR is unique. SCTC (many kudos to Robert Bingaman!) puts a visually compelling cockpit on stage with accompanying lights and sounds making CVR artistic. This is accentuated by simple statements of fact projected above the stage. Now to “sticky”. CVR is “sticky” because its words and sounds will not leave you any time soon. Audiences hear the reality and closely controlled desperation of these airline crews as they fight with everything they have to get both them and their passengers home alive. It is not often when theatergoers find themselves paying close attention to straining muscles willing them to hold on!
The ensemble cast of Eric Carter, Kevin Doyle, Jason Cutts, Stacy Skinner, Tyler S. Elliott, Cindy Starcher and Paul Sollimo are to be commended singly and as a group for their work which was “above and beyond”. As the lights come up on each scene, each actor is instantly emotionally invested in what is happening. Each presents a different persona in its entirety. There is no chance for the audience and the actor to establish a rapport. CVR demands ready-to-go characters, and these actors delivered on that demand.
CVR is another example of how SCTC is bringing the theatre arts into Camden. Never to be a venue to consider only those productions usually done to draw large audiences, SCTC has taken another step down its long-standing path of grabbing people as they pass by and giving them an experience they won’t forget! Don’t miss your experience!!
South Camden Theatre Company presents CVR now through November 1
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400 Jasper Street, Camden, NJ 08104
For more information visit www.southcamdentheatre.org