Brendan Fitzgibbon, Contributor
Player’s Theaters’ production of Superior Donuts is a look at the dynamic relationship between youthful optimism and older pessimism supported by an energetic cast of newcomers and returning actors. Directed by Player’s Theater veteran Clay Walsh, Superior Donuts tells the story of failing donut shop, Superior Donuts. It’s run by the aging Arthur Przybyszewski (Jonathan Vanderzon) who takes on the poor but creative Franco (Sory Ibrahim Kaboré) as his apprentice. The resulting union gives Arthur new optimism about his chances in life, while Franco finds a confidant.
Although it uses a tried and true plot line, the play is backed by excellent performances, an expansive set, and an equal balance of character building with honest humour. Although Kaboré struggles at times to give Franco the presence required of such a character, the easy, fluid, and often quick exchange of dialogue between Franco and Arthur makes it easy to get absorbed into the play and makes their interactions fun to watch.
The passionate Russian businessman Max Tarasov (Filip Rakic) is a dominating personality in any scene that he enters (sometimes drunkenly) and Rakic gives a standout performance. His hilarious persona contrasts with the serious and usually gloomy character of Arthur. Arthur’s history is unveiled slowly throughout the play via a series of well-executed monologues. These monologues give us an understanding of how Arthur gradually became a shadow of his past self all the way up to the present day. Vanderzon uses the monologues to flesh out Arthur’s character among the many eccentric personalities present in the donut shop.
Similarly to Max Tarasov, loan shark Luther Flynn (Thomas Fix) and thuggish crony Kevin (Harry Skinner) gave the show energy and humour. The arrival of Lady (Gretel Kahn) led to Arthur exposing more of his personal frustrations and history using Lady as a reflection of himself. The appearance of dysfunctional Officers Randy (Francesca Scotti-Goetz) and James (Herve Rutegengwa) gradually became more fun and welcome as the show went on and their relationships with the two main characters were exposed.
It was clear that there was a mix among newer actors and veteran ones, although the constant exchange of dialogues between the characters helped to downplay the less confident performances. It’s rare, if ever, that two newer actors are alone in a scene together and this makes the play’s dialogue and action easy to follow throughout. Although the set is quite large, it’s only used towards the end and unfortunately not to its full potential.
Superior Donuts is a well-executed play with an enjoyable storyline, but also with enough symbolism lying beneath the surface.
Superior Donuts will be playing from January 25th-28th in the Players’ Theater located on the 3rd Floor of the SSMU Building at 8:00PM on weekdays and 7:00PM for the concluding show on Saturday. Entrance is 10$ or 6$ upon presentation of a student ID.