We don’t make friends like we used to when we were kids–when things were easier and simple. When a day seemed to last forever and we felt safety in the promises of the dreams our parents and the world around us encouraged us to have.

In Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts’ new dark comedy, SUPERIOR DONUTS, friendship and The American Dream and the dying art of keeping those prospects alive in the ever-changing age of Facebook and fast-food coffee are the major themes that protrude from this taut and touching production, which is directed by Bruce K. Sevy and is premiering at The DCPA on April 7.

Aging hippie, Arthur, maintains a modest independent donut shop he took over from his Polish immigrant parents nearly forty years earlier with outdated and carefree sensibilities letting the place run, more or less, on auto pilot–It was their dream, after all, not his. Mainly serving coffee and crullers to a handful of allegiant regulars (who all call Arthur by name), it’s clear that the establishment has become an obsolete fixture to the general public as people flood the Starbucks across the street. Things change when Arthur is forced to look for help for the first time ever and hires a witty, young African-American assistant who points out that people “don’t eat donuts anymore,” and suggests with wide-eyed enthusiasm the possibilities to transform the decrepit shop into something more appealing to keep up with the times.

The production’s  Director of Scenic Design, Lisa Orzolek, brilliantly encourages the audience into the sitcom-like world of the theater-in-the-round style, Stage Theatre (which is a three-quarter thrust with audiences on three sides). It’s the finely elaborated performances from the cast of Superior Donuts, however, that keep you there.

The exchanges between Arthur and young Franco, who are played to the hilt with tender humanity and authenticity by the polished Mike Hartman and rookie Sheldon Best, are the plays highlights. Particularly, when Franco bets Arthur that he can’t name ten black poets.

The supporting cast is no-less impressive with the sullen yet hilarious Kathleen M. Brady as the homeless donut muncher, Lady Boyle, and  Robert Sicular, who plays a neighboring Russian business owner, gives one of the finest and most believable portrayals in the whole show.

The DCPA’s Superior Donuts must have been a labor of love to pull off, and it shows with clean results.  It presents a sweet bit of something familiar and nostalgic we have all experienced without being heavy-handed on sugar or the lightness and laughter it brings so effortlessly.  What it all comes down to is change is rough and relationships are hard. We are over-stimulated and impatient and keep waiting for a life we imagined, while ignoring the one we’ve got going on. Too often, we forget the comforts that accompany letting go a little.

This is the world of Superior Donuts.

Superior Donuts
Apr 1, 2011-May 7, 2011
The Space Theatre
Tickets start at $10

Mon-Thur 6:30pm
Fri & Sat 7:30pm
Sat mat 1:30pm

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