There is something to be said about purely theatrical plays. They invite the audience to use their imaginations and entertain us on a whole different level than most other plays. Lowell Bartholomee’s new work, PREVIEWS OF DEPARTING ATTRACTIONS is a breath of theatrical fresh air in our sweltering August heat.
Presented at Austin Playhouse’s beautiful new West Campus, Bartholomee’s script, or scripts should I say, are highly entertaining, running the emotional gamut from belly laughs to stifled sobs. The piece itself is actually made up of ten different pieces and on a variety of topics. The writing reminded me fondly of ALL IN THE TIMING by David Ives, a personal favorite. All roles played by a stellar ensemble of 7 actors; each segment is superbly witty dialogue and familiar situations. From a job interview to the landing of astronauts on the moon, PREVIEWS OF DEPARTING ATTRACTIONS perfectly targets humanity and makes audiences laugh, cry and softly reflect. The consistent theme throughout the show is how we experience change and loss, and is certainly relevant after the pandemic years.
I had several favorites among the stage performances and the videos. ONE SMALL STEP, a brilliantly made video in which Neil Armstrong (Zac Carr) and Buzz Aldrin (Kareem Badar) hilariously debate the first words spoken while walking on the lunar surface. Another favorite was SMILEY, a story of man’s best friend played wonderfully by David DuBose. I won’t go into details, but everyone will feel the emotional impact of this segment. The entire cast is fantastic and Bartholomee’s writing, directing and videos are superb. But I want to take a moment to mention the glorious new location of Austin Playhouse.
Located on the University of Texas West Campus, just off The Drag on West 22nd Street, this new space is amazing! On the second floor of the Texas Sigma Delta Tau house, the theater is a beautiful proscenium with comfortable seating and plenty of space. Not one of Austin’s usual converted spaces, in typical Austin Playhouse style, this new location is clearly a cut above. The entire organization deserves praise for their new, albeit temporary, home.
I hope you catch the DEPARTURE ATTRACTIONS PREVIEWS at the West Campus at the Austin Playhouse. You will enjoy every moment as much as I do.
OVERVIEW OF ATTRACTIONS AT THE START
by Lowell Bartholomew
Austin Playhouse West Campus
405 West 22nd Street, Austin
August 5 to 20
Duration: 1h30 without intermission.
Tickets: $15 – $36 =bottombuybutton1