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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Lighter side of Bay of Pigs in ‘Rum and Coke’

Theatre and history buffs alike should enjoy the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s summer production. The play “”Rum & Coke”” by Keith Reddin is a comedy about the Bay of Pigs and its disastrous outcome. Don’t fret, this play doesn’t bore with historical jargon and a retelling of a well-known story, but reinvents the event through an enlightening and humorous new take.

The play is based around Jake Seward who is portrayed by theatre arts sophomore Joe Hubbard as a nerdy, nervous CIA agent pushed into training Cuban freedom fighters in the art of propaganda. Hubbard brings to life the well-intentioned but clumsy character. He, as well as the rest of the cast, accurately depicts the era in which the play is set while avoiding clichés and upholding all its glory. The cast shines around Hubbard’s lively and enjoyable performance.

What would the late ’50s and early ’60s be like without Richard Nixon thrown in there? William Hubbard performs fantastically as Nixon. Even without that famous face, he truly re-creates the man, the myth and the legend. His voice and mannerisms are perfect and drive home his spot-on performance. While Nixon is enjoyable, Fidel Castro (local actor and ART regular Richard Shipman) is played as a cheesy and boisterous character drenched in a good coat of satire.

Another notable performance is that of Dwayne Palmer, a Tucson actor and UA alumnus. Palmer plays Roger Potter, Jake’s superior. His all-around performance brings the cocky and conceited CIA agent to life, but his facial expressions really drive his part home. First-year Pima Community College actor Julio Sauceda as Miguel is a lovable character who reveals something in everyone and adds a serious, even emotional, touch to the comedy. The ensemble works well together and clearly plays off each other’s energies.

The set is interesting and well thought out mostly. The use of projection and flying in set pieces gives depth to the various locations created in the show. The set is based around five hanging screens, three of which can move. Raised rolling pieces brought characters in and out while allowing for smooth transitions between scenes. The two full-size, real-life vehicles added authenticity to the show. Lighting often left the actors shadowed, but these shadows are used to the actors’ advantages. Small light issues aside, the show is well put together and allows the audience to totally commit, especially given the minimal staging with advanced use of the fly system and moving set pieces.

Even if you weren’t around for the Bay of Pigs or don’t have a real feel for what the situation was about, this entertaining and insightful piece is worth seeing. The facts are put together with enough background that even the least history savvy person could follow the story. Not only does the play look at the event from a satirical standpoint, but it also highlights how changeable memory is and what that means in different contexts.

“”Rum & Coke”” runs until June 28 and will be revived during the school year with additional dates through September. Tickets are $28 with discounts available for students, staff, and seniors. For the summer, tickets are available two for the price of one. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Marroney Theatre box office 520-621-1301 or online at www.arizona.tix.com. This show includes adult themes and is not appropriate for young children.

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