Gia On The Move, Matt Ritchey, theater reviews, Hollywood Fringe Festival, This Way Yonder

Reviewed by Matt Ritchey

Things change. It’s inevitable. But it’s how people adapt to the changes that puts them on a path to discovering themselves – push against it too hard and you only wind up losing more than you were mourning in the first place.

In Montana Cypress’s This Way Yonder, Ruth McMillan (Marjorie Knight) is the one dealing with changes – BIG changes. Hurricane Andrew has all but destroyed her stone crab business on the East Coast and she’s bending over backward trying to make sure her multi-generational family-owned restaurant gets back up. She’s offered a paltry sum by a banker – who just happens to be an old acquaintance-cum-flame (Jeremy Moller) and refuses, knowing she’ll be screwed in the deal. She’s trying to save the business for her daughter Maybelline (Kelly Crossley) who, surprise surprise, has less interest in stone crabbing than in art and the cute new mechanic Tiger (Omar Salazar) who works for her Uncle Wooten (Justin Vlach).

This Way Yonder is a touching and funny slice of life – a great cast with standouts Marjorie Knight as the caustic Ruth battling a war on several fronts at once, Justin Vlach who owns the stage in his few scenes, and Omar Salazar as hysterical and endearing Cody Tiger. There is great chemistry between all of the characters and there is honest conflict, signs of a good script and a good director, which means good casting (Monica Martin).

There can be a bit of monologuing and you’d be forgiven for wondering why such a realistic piece has an out-of-place deus ex machina. The tone of the piece wobbles in sequences involving Uncle Wooten and it’s not entirely clear how much of this is performance or how much is in the writing, but the finale, while it fits with character, pushes the envelope a bit far for such a down-to-Earth piece.

But with great performances by Marjorie Knight, Omar Salazar, and Kelly Crossley, This Way Yonder is the direction to head for a nice mix of drama and comedy.

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