Bill W. and Dr. Bob @ Center Stage Theater ~ April 11, 2013

Keeping It Real

I love me some theater. Center Stage Theater, located on the terrace above Paseo Neuvo, brings some of the best and most unusual plays to Santa Barbara. “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” not being the exception.

For those of you not familiar with the title or the topic, Bill W. and Dr. Bob were the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am familiar with the story and was completely intrigued with how this true story about two exceptional men who have touched so many people’s lives would be portrayed on stage.

It was very well done. The play was split into two story lines, acted out somewhat simultaneously. Bill’s struggle played out on the left, intermittently fading into to Dr. Bob’s struggle on the right, ultimately merging when the characters meet and their story together begins.

The small cast consisted of 6 people: Mr. & Mrs. Bill W. (John Brindle & Jean Hall), Dr. & Mrs. Bob (Tim Whitcomb & Kathy Marden), “Man” and  “Woman” (Ray Wallenthin & Kathleen Leary).  Ray Wallenthin played all the non-title male roles (“Man”), slipping easy into each role. Some roles were repeat characters and Wallenthin was able to produce enough character for each that I could easily keep them apart (no small feat). It was a testimony to true acting. Kathleen Leary did the same for the female roles.

The characters of Bill and Dr. Bob, as well as their wives, were well acted and authentic. When I asked John Brindle after the play what was most challenging about playing this part, he replied that is was to “convey alcoholism realistically with no melodrama, pulling from things hard to handle to make the character deep.”  And deep it was.

Nice job keeping it real.