A mixed bag
Johnathan Carr’s striking video design, coupled with sound designer Rolf Sturm’s deft use of music and effects combined to elevate the show, even as the performers stumbled over the improv, searching for the right words, and stammering while attempting to incorporate local references (Jeffersonville, Josh Fox and Callicoon, to name a few). IMHO these mentions did not exemplify a solid use of “interviews with local residents,” but instead seemed contrived, gimmicky and at times, sloppy. Presenting “multiple viewpoints” was also unclear, especially since two of the main characters were supposedly at loggerheads over the issue at hand, but the piece (not that there’s anything wrong with that) is clearly slanted against fracking. The performers are talented, that much is clear, but the disparity between the scripted content versus the improvisational created troubled waters, that left me wondering where the direction was. Leese Walker helmed the performance and also appeared on stage (as several characters) which I rarely think is a good idea. Where her acting skills shone, her direction faltered and I found the interpretive dance/movement (Donna Bouthillier) and musical riffs (Rob Henke) distracting. To say the production was a mixed bag would be an understatement, since some of it was really polished and slick, while the rest was a bit of a mess. A perfect example of the validity that less is more, “Same River” needs simplicity, for still waters run deep.