Building emotion, actors earn laughs, tears

“I always forget something,” laments a young husband while his wife berates him for buying the kind of orange juice with pulp that they don’t even like and the wrong kind of detergent.

In “Below the Belt,” playwright Dennis Bush explores the tedium and disgusting intimacy of five ordinary relationships, culminating in a mundane tragedy.

Jane C. Walsh expertly directs a fine ensemble cast in this one-act play presented by the College of Southern Nevada Department of Fine Arts.

Using the most minimal of minimalist sets with a cast dressed in mime’s costumes of black pants and white shirts, Walsh focuses our attention on the characters who step out of a faceless chorus of 10 actors.

With skillful timing, lines merged in a chorus of voices emerge into a single character’s voice. In the opening, this chorus of voices establishes that the action takes place on one beautiful summer day.

Two brothers complain about their relationships, or lack thereof. Reed Huddleston as Bill is a tall, handsome straight man to the funny Raymond Gutierrez who plays the short and bespectacled nerd, Jerry.

The tolling of a bell serves as a dissolve from one vignette to the next as we move to Molly, played with laugh-out-loud panache by Asia Pitts, kvetching about her life with her cop husband, Curtis, played by Jonathan Roupp.

Curtis is bored by his wife’s boring life and occupies himself with online romances. This, in turn, dissolves to Bill and Jerry discussing their own online love lives.

We next encounter Kelsey Jeralds as Trish arguing with Alexander Medlicott as Xander. Xander explains to Trish, “I need you to listen when I yell.” They are funny like Blondie and Dagwood, though in an angry way.

Balancing Bill and Jerry are sisters Amy (Devon Sparks) and Selena (Madeline Angulo). Amy started becoming sick when their mother was diagnosed with cancer. She has suffered a long series of mishaps and ailments and she now complains of irritable bowel syndrome.

Sister Selena has become a chronic caretaker to first their mother and now Amy. Both Sparks and Angulo play their roles with deadpan earnestness and irritable bowel syndrome has never been funnier.

A third couple, Willow and Ray (Breanna Jefferson and Oscar Damasco), have young children. Willow complains that they argue over nothing. She would like some serious alone time and isn’t getting it. Ray daydreams about freedom and he forgets household basics at the grocery store.

While the other couples are funny because we can recognize our own petty bickering in their arguing, Willow and Ray’s arguments have a more sorrowful undertone.

The rhythm of the play moves in and out from general comments voiced by the ensemble as a chorus to the bitterness and humor of each of the individual characters as they explore their everyday problems of work and relationships, having kids and fidelity.

We know from the start that the play ends in tragedy, but we have no idea what that may be and Bush creates a heightened sense of suspense through our anticipation. He also cleverly provides a couple of red herrings.

Each couple’s petty problems are funny in their monotony, but Bush shows his skill as a writer when he casts a shadow of significance on their bickering through the anticipated — but nonetheless surprising — tragedy that ties each of the parts into a whole.

The characters might have been presented as sketches, but Walsh’s young actors build genuine emotion and earn the audience’s laughter and tears. Damasco is especially heartbreaking as Ray. Jefferson’s Willow is less sympathetic, but her performance is all the more shattering because of it.

“Below the Belt” ends with the tolling of the bell and Bush manages to bring fresh meaning to this old cliché.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like