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A Summons From The Tinker To Assemble The Membership At The Usual Place

by Matthew Martello
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Oct 19, 2015
A Summons From The Tinker To Assemble The Membership At The Usual Place

This past Thursday evening, A Public Fit Theatre Company presented the world premiere of "A Summons From The Tinker To Assemble The Membership At The Usual Place," their second fully staged production ("Foxfinder," 2014).

The play is an adaptation of the 1931 Fritz Lang classic "M," written by Joseph Kucan. Quite like the movie, the play has a strong film noir feel to it, taking place in a seedy warehouse filled with unsavory characters in a bad part of town. The audience is part of the 'membership' as well, with interactions that occur later in the production.

The story centers around Hans Beckert (Mark Gorman), a man accused of murdering eight children in Berlin in the early 1930s. He experiences a 'trial' of sorts, filled with undesirables such as the Tinker (Christopher Brown) and other hoodlums of the criminal underground of the city serving as judge and jury. He is defended by Hankel (Joe Kucan), a drunkard who is less than respected by his criminally-minded peers. Flashbacks throughout the show indicate the guilt (or innocence) of the accused.

There are many fantastic performances in the show, but for me the star would have to be the location itself. The show is indeed taking place in a warehouse in what can be considered 'the wrong part of town' (the downtown renaissance has yet to hit the area of Fremont Street and Maryland Parkway to be sure). Minor adaptations, such as platforms, a couple walls and a noisy exhaust fan further helped to transform the space.

Sparse but highly effective lighting instruments added to the film noir feel. It was almost as if I heard the film crackling along with the fan as it incessantly spun throughout the production. With the audience interspersed within the action, the overall feel of the location could not be more perfect. Co-directors Ann Marie Pereth and Joseph Kucan, along with their talented production crew, did well in establishing the authentic environment.

Mark Gorman is excellent as the accused Hans Beckert. The audience runs the gamut of emotions in regards to Hans, from sympathy to disgust, and it is in large part to Gorman's performance. Christopher Brown continues to be an acting standout in the Vegas valley, and his portrayal of the Tinker further enhances that position. His relentless pursuit of twisted justice thoroughly enthralled the opening night audience.

Joe Kucan is highly effective as Hankel, Hans' counsel. As the audience is encouraged to participate toward the end of the show, it is interesting to experience Hankel's commentary on the death penalty, a subject that is every bit as important today as it was in 1931 Berlin. Dual roles are always a challenge, but Scott McAdam (Peder/Cop) and Timothy Cummings (Felix/Lohman) both did extremely well with their parts. The humor of the interrogation scene with Thilo was among my favorite moments of the production.

Ranson Lewis did well as Thilo, a seedy character who had his hands in various wrongdoings throughout Berlin. Rebecca Reyes did a wonderful job as Elsie Beckmann, one of the young victims. Her performance was quite convincing and certainly not easy to pull off. Kelli Andino is also fantastic as Beatrice, offering a heartfelt and mesmerizing performance. One of the more intriguing characters for me was Carl, the blind man who seemed to accurately identify the murderer, played by Ken Kucan, who offered a strong performance. The show was cast extremely well, filled with seasoned actors offering great performances.

The only suggestion I would have would be to mark the entrance to the theater space a little more effectively. There was some confusion as to where to enter for some of the theater patrons, myself included, accidentally walking into the restaurant next to the warehouse. A minor inconvenience, "A Summons From The Tinker..." is a highly entertaining and clever drama. Due to the occasional strong language, I would recommend this show for people high school age and up.

"A Summons From The Tinker To Assemble The Membership At The Usual Place" runs through Nov. 1 at Fremont Village, 100 S. Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas, Nevada. For tickets and information, contact 1.shortstack.com.

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