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Cygnet Theatre tributes pop culture with Pulitzer Prize winning material


Cygnet Theatre tributes pop culture with Pulitzer Prize winning material

Article by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

Each theatre company in San Diego has a very creative way of presenting their work, illustrating their mission statement season to season. Cygnet Theatre ‘poured’ a double this time by staging two pieces by American playwright Sam Shepard. Fool for Love and True West – alternating show days in order for patrons to see both plays.

On Sunday, True West went first in the afternoon; Fool for Love followed that same evening. I saw Fool for Love. The scene unravels with ‘May’ (Carla Harting) having a fit due to Eddie’s (Francis Gercke) –shenanigans-. They are in a rundown motel room on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Eddie comforts May assuring her he will not take long and will be back. May distrusts the argument. There is a witness…a man (Antonio TJ Johnson) sitting in the back, contemplating the scene as he pours what seems like alcohol into a plastic cup. The same argument goes back and forth, back and forth with he said/she said debates intersected by A LOT of door slams. The first door slam powerfully accentuates the heated discussion, plus it is enhanced with a door slam sound (effect)… by the third time it starts to get kind of annoying.

May multitasks as she changes her outfit onstage (in the authentic looking set by Cygnet Artistic Director Sean Murray) and continues to argue with Eddie; the scene goes smoothly guided by Conor Mulligan’s lighting which reveals Harting’s athletic figure. May is changing because she is going on a movie date with Martin (Manny Fernandes). Poor Martin gets sucked into an argument that has absolutely nothing to do with him. The dispute is garnished with a third tint, when the old man speaks his mind. Although it seems he is only in Eddie’s mind. Francis Gercke’s portrayal of the western type Eddie is lustrous and kooky, sporting wife Jessica John Gercke’s costume design.

The way Harting, Gercke and Fernandes work the stage space is balanced. Carla’s tone gets too squeaky at times and her acting rhythm instead of flowing, I perceived to be a bit forced. Antonio TJ Johnson is strong in his portrayal of the old man as he vocalizes his disagreement with May and Eddie’s storytelling. It was hard for me to follow and understand what was happening. I thought the reason might be that I hadn’t yet seen True West; reading the show description did not give me any answers but did leave me wanting to see it and try to find the missing pieces.

To encourage patrons to get the full Shepard experience Cygnet Theatre will offer a ‘ShepRep’ discount to see both shows which will be playing until Sunday November 2, 2014. For more information, ticket prices and surrounding activities, please visit:

Interesting facts:

  • Francis Gercke runs ‘actors approach’ a unique acting workshop.
  • Manny Fernandes is also involved with Marketing and Operations at Cygnet Theatre.
  • This is Carla Harting’s debut at Cygnet. She played the role of Ivy in August: Osage County at the Old Globe to rave reviews.
  • There will be ‘Friday Forums’ October 10th and 17th to discuss both plays with cast and creatives.
Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

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