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Edited and Published by Robert W. McDowell

May 25, 2023 Issue
PART 2 (May 20, 2023)

A FREE Weekly E-mail Newsletter Covering Theater, Dance, Music, and Film in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area of North Carolina Since April 2001.


Peak  Ensemble  Players'  Production  of
 Sam Bobrick's  Baggage  Is  a  Hoot!

We've all heard the horror stories: "The airline lost my suitcase!" "I flew to Miami, and my luggage flew to Houston!" etc. Who would have imagined that such a story would be fodder for delightful 90-minute comedy?

In Peak Ensemble Players' current production of Baggage, playing Friday-Sunday through May 28th at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex, playwright Sam Bobrick takes the situation to a new level with the question: "What might happen if a baggage SNAFU led to a ‘boy-meets-girl' situation?" More specifically: "What might happen if such a situation were to lead to a single-woman-who-never-found-the-right-guy (Phyllis Novak) meeting a man-whose-wife-has-just-left-him-for-her-high-school-sweetheart (Bradley Naughton)?"

To help answer this question, Bobrick throws in two "experts" -- Dr. Jonathan Alexander (a therapist who has written three books that he never ceases to market) and Mitzi Cartwright (Phyllis' quirky friend) -- to weigh in.

Now we will pose a question: "Does this play qualify as a romantic comedy?"

Note: there is a reason why Bobrick named the play "Baggage," rather than "Luggage" or "Suitcase."

Jenny Anglum is nothing short of hilarious, portraying Phyllis as one who sees nothing wrong with opening someone else's suitcase and perusing the contents. And that's just for starters.

Larry Evans' Bradley seems more "normal" at the onset, thereby eliciting laughter (along with a bit of empathy) as his own quirks manifest themselves.

Once the first scene has established the "situation," the second scene makes expert use of a time-honored theater staple: the soliloquy. This is where we meet Dr. Alexander. Maintaining a "straight face" throughout, Chris Brown takes the audience on a ride of constant laughter. Is he just an outside observer? Or will he be part of "the story"? And will we be treated to "his story"?

As Mitzi, Tracey Riordan gives us everything that we could ask for in a "quirky friend" who offers insane "wisdom" with an unbelievable level of earnest sincerity. Again: Is Mitzi just a supporting character for "the story"? Or are we about to witness "her story"?

As audience members, we often ask ourselves the question "What is going to happen after the events in the play?" Curiously, the characters in Baggage keep asking this question. And this is not the only metatheatrical source of amusement. Keep an eye out for a quote from Shakespeare and for a reference to a work by Shaw.

Director Kathleen Rudolph has set a brisk pace all the way to both intermission and curtain call. And, as always, her cast deftly earns the distinction of " ensemble."

We attended on "preview night," but I cannot imagine the "finished product" being any better. Production values (lighting, sound, set, and costumes) are all spot-on.

Baggage plays at the Halle Cultural Arts Center at 237 N. Salem St. in downtown Apex through next weekend. Click here to buy tickets.

Several restaurants and bars are within walking distance. So, "pack your bags," and make a night (or afternoon) of it.

Sam Bobrick's BAGGAGE (In Person at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 21, and 26-28), directed by Kathleen Rudolph and starring Jenny Anglum as Phyllis Novak, Larry Evans as Bradley Naughton, Chris Brown as Dr. Jonathan Alexander, and Tracey Riordan as Mitzi Cartright (Peak Ensemble Players at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex). TRAILERS: VIDEOS: THE PRESENTER:,, and 2023 SEASON: THE VENUE:,,,, and DIRECTIONS: WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY: COVID REQUIREMENTS: BAGGAGE (2005 Romantic Comedy): and THE SCRIPT (excerpts): SAM BOBRICK (Chicago, IL-born playwright and screenwriter, 1932-2019):,,, and TICKETS: $18 ($10 students 16 and under and $12 seniors, plus taxes and fees. Click here to buy tickets. INFORMATION: 919-249-1120,, or PLEASE DONATE TO: Peak Ensemble Players. Halle Cultural Arts Center.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights' Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with North Carolina Reading Service. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review.


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